Journal Article

Consumption of fruits and vegetables among adolescents in Arab Countries: a systematic review

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Background Adolescents’ consumption of fruits and vegetables is inadequate in most Arab countries, leading to a higher risk of poor health outcomes. This systematic review evaluates fruits and vegetables intake among adolescents in Arab countries, the proportion of adolescents meeting the dietary guidelines in these countries, and the dietary assessment tools used to assess fruits and vegetables intake.
Methods Four databases were searched, MEDLINE, PUBMED, EMBASE, and Web of Science. Studies were eligible if they reported fruit or vegetable consumption among adolescents aged 10 to 19 in 22 Arab countries. The risk of bias in the included studies was assessed by two reviewers independently using the risk of bias tool developed by Hoy et al. Data were extracted and synthesized into three categories; frequency of fruits and vegetables consumption, mean fruits and vegetables consumption, and percentage of adolescents meeting fruits and vegetables consumption recommendations.
Results The review included 44 articles utilizing 41 cross-sectional studies. Most studies were school-based, and data was collected from both males and females using self-administered questionnaires. Of those, validated questionnaires were used in 28 studies. According to the World Health Organization recommendation, most studies defined five fruits and vegetables servings as the adequacy cutoff point; other definitions were used in some studies. The reported mean consumption ranged between 6.1 times per week and 4.5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. The proportion of those who met the recommendations of eating five servings per day ranged between 10 and 29%. Fruits were shown to have a lower daily intake than vegetables (4.2 to 53.7% for fruits and 7.8 to 66.3% for vegetables).
Discussion This review indicated inadequate fruits and vegetables consumption among adolescents in Arab countries and highlighted an increased risk of non-communicable diseases and malnutrition prevalence. A limitation was the incomparability of available data between countries. Further in-depth research on the core reasons behind
adolescents’ inadequacy in fruits and vegetables consumption is recommended.

Date Published
January, 2023
Journal Name
International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Fruits and vegetables
Arab Countries