The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.

-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia 

The Healthy Diet of the Healthy Estate

Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson

Fruits and vegetables matter a lot to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). These organizations both recommend daily consumption of at least five servings of fruits and vegetables (F&V), or a minimum of 400 grams (approximately 14 ounces). Confirming the wisdom of such recommendations are studies showing that regular consumption of fruits and vegetables significantly reduces the risk of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and strokes. However, the likelihood that men and women will eat their fruits and vegetables depends not only upon what is on their plate but also what is on their finger. For according to a study completed by researchers at Concordia University in Canada, men and women wearing a wedding band are much more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables than are their unmarried peers.

To identify the social circumstances that foster compliance with WHO and FAO guidelines, the researchers scrutinize data collected in 2007 from 97,719 Canadians between the ages of 18 and 69. These data show that “household composition significantly affects the frequency of F&V consumption.”

More specifically, “married individuals and those with children consume F&V more often” than do peers who are unmarried or who have no children.

These findings came as no surprise to the researchers, who acknowledge that previous research has established that “singles consume less [fruits and vegetables] than married people.” But the researchers believe that by studying the growing body of research, public-health officials gain an “understanding [of] the socio-demographic and lifestyle characteristics of individuals with low F&V consumption frequency [which] could increase the effectiveness of policies aimed at promoting F&V consumption.”

Public-health officials and green grocers alike have reason to hope for the blessed peal of wedding bells!

(Sunday Azagba and Mesbah F. Sharaf, “Disparities in the Frequency of Fruit and Vegetable Consumption by Socio-Demographic and Lifestyle Characteristics in Canada,” Nutrition Journal 10 [October 25, 2011]: 118.)