Objective: To evaluate the contribution of composite foods to vegetable and fruit intakes in Irish adults and to compliance with dietary guidelines for vegetable and fruit intake.
Design: Data were analysed from the North/South Ireland Food Consumption Survey of 18-64-year-old adults (n = 1379; 662 men, 717 women), which used a 7-day food diary to estimate food intake.
Results: The mean intake of vegetables (excluding potatoes) was 140 g day(-1) (men 149 g day(-1), women 132 g day(-1)), of fruit was 136 g day(-1) (men 133 g day(-1); women 140 g day(-1)) and of potatoes was 227 g day(-1) (men 296 g day(-1); women 163 g day(-1)). The mean daily intakes of vegetables, fruit and potatoes from composite foods were 37 g (26%), 6 g (5%) and 17 g (7%, respectively. The mean intake of vegetables from composite foods was unrelated to age or gender, but increased with increasing social class and level of education attained. The proportions of men and women meeting the recommendation for greater than or equal to 400 g day(-1) (5 servings of 80 g per day) of vegetables and fruit were 21% (15% excluding composite foods) and 19% (12% excluding composite foods), respectively. Compliance with the dietary recommendation decreased with decreasing levels of educational attainment and social class.
Conclusion: Intakes of vegetables and fruit are low compared with current dietary recommendations, particularly in those of lower levels of educational attainment and social class. Composite foods are an important source of vegetables (less importantly of fruit) and should be included when estimating vegetable intakes. Failure to do so may result in bias in estimates of intake and of compliance with dietary guidelines for population groups, as well as misclassification of individuals by level of intake.