We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

Health of Scotland’s population - Diet


A lack of fruit and vegetables in people's diet has been shown to be a risk factor in a range of serious health problems, such as heart disease, cancer, type II diabetes, hypertension and obesity. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends adults eat at least five varied portions - where a portion is defined as 80g - of fruit and vegetables a day1.

Scotland's unhealthy diet is widely cited as a factor in its poor health record2. Previous research has shown that children and young people in Scotland follow a diet that falls short of national recommendations and is less healthy than that of children in other European countries3.

The proportion of adults meeting the 5-a-day recommendations has remained fairly constant over time.  In 2015, 21% of adults met or exceeded the recommended five portions, down slightly from a high of 23% in 2009 but the same level as in 2003.  The proportion of adults eating no fruit and vegetables has remained at between 9% and 11% each year since 2003 (11% in 2015).

The figure below shows that the relationship between consumption of fruit and vegetables and age is not linear.  In 2015, it was lowest among those aged 16-24, who consumed a mean of 2.6 portions a day, and highest among those aged 55-74 (a mean of 3.4 portions).  Patterns of consumption by age were similar for both men and women.

Diet by age 2015
















View chart data

1. See: www.who.int/dietphysicalactivity/publications/fruit_vegetables_report.pdf

2. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/277346/0083283.pdf

3. Scotland's Health - A Challenge to Us All: The Scottish Diet. Edinburgh: The Scottish Office, 1993. www.healthscotland.com/documents/1181.aspx

Source: Scottish Health Survey (SHeS)

Further Information