Relationship of fruit and vegetable intake with adiposity: a systematic review


T Ledoux, USDA/ARS Children's Nutrition Research Center, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100 Bates Street, Houston, TX 77030, USA. E-mail:


Fruit and vegetable (FV) intake has been proposed to protect against obesity. The purpose of this paper was to assess the FV consumption to adiposity relationship. Twenty-three publications were included. Inclusion criteria: longitudinal or experimental designs; FV intake tested in relation to adiposity; child, adolescent or adult participants; published in English-language peer-reviewed journals. Exclusion criteria: dietary pattern and cross-sectional designs; participants with health concerns. Experimental studies found increased FV consumption (in conjunction with other behaviours) contributed to reduced adiposity among overweight or obese adults, but no association was shown among children. Longitudinal studies among overweight adults found greater F and/or V consumption was associated with slower weight gain, but only half of child longitudinal studies found a significant inverse association. Limitations in methods prevented a thorough examination of the role of increased FV intake alone or mechanisms of effect. An inverse relationship between FV intake and adiposity among overweight adults appears weak; this relationship among children is unclear. Research needs to clarify the nature of, and mechanisms for, the effects of FV consumption on adiposity. Whether increases in FV intake in isolation from lower caloric intake or increased physical activity will result in declines or slower growth in adiposity remains unclear.