Healthy eating of 5-a-day among adults
Last updated 15 January 2018 - see all updates
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1. Main facts and figures
in England, more than half of adults ate 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables on a usual day (‘5-a-day’) in 2015 (based on the results of the Active People Survey)
just over half of White adults ate 5-a-day in 2015
just over a third of Black adults ate 5-a-day in 2015
the percentage of adults in the Asian, Chinese and Other ethnic groups who ate 5-a-day in 2015 was also lower than the percentage of White adults doing so
The ethnic categories used in this data
For this data, the number of people from specific ethnic categories surveyed (the ‘sample size’) was too small to draw any firm conclusions. Therefore, the data is broken down into the following broad groups:
- Asian/Asian British
- Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
- Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
- Other ethnic group
2. Healthy eating of 5-a-day among adults by ethnicity
Summary of Healthy eating of 5-a-day among adults Healthy eating of 5-a-day among adults by ethnicity Summary
The data for this measure is taken from the Active People Survey (APS) in 2014 and 2015.
Respondents to the survey were asked 2 questions about how many portions of fruit and vegetables they eat on a usual day. Respondents were counted as eating 5 portions of fruit and vegetables on a usual day (‘5-a-day’) if their responses on the numbers of fruit and vegetables added up to 5 or more.
The survey was conducted by telephone, using landline numbers selected from a database of randomly generated numbers in England, Wales and Scotland. Only people aged 16 or older were interviewed. Calls were made throughout the year and at different times each day. A high quality random sampling survey design ensured results were representative of the population. Results for 2015 were based on responses from a sample of approximately 170,000 people, with about 159,000 people answering the questions on eating fruits and vegetables in 2014, and 164,000 people in 2015.
Surveys collect information from a random sample of the target population to make generalisations (to reach 'findings’) about everyone within that population.
For those findings to be reliable, the sample of people should ideally contain the same mix of age, gender and regional location as the target population.
Where this isn’t the case (because some people haven’t responded, for example) analysts use statistical tools to ‘weight’ the data. Weighting rebalances the survey responses so they represent the target population more accurately. They can then be used to reach meaningful conclusions.
The APS data is weighted to reflect the size and composition of the general population by using the most up-to-date official population data.
The confidence intervals for each ethnic group are available in Download the data.
52.3% of adults surveyed in 2015 reported eating 5 or more portions of fruit and vegetables on a usual day (‘5-a-day’). This is a reliable estimate of the percentage of adults in England who ate 5-a-day, but because the APS results are based on a random sample of people aged 16 or older, it’s impossible to be 100% certain of the true percentage.
It’s 95% certain, however, that somewhere between 52.1% and 52.5% of all adults in England ate 5-a-day in 2015. In statistical terms, this is a 95% confidence interval. This means that if 100 random samples were taken, then 95 times out of 100 the estimate would fall in this range (ie between the upper and lower confidence interval). But 5 times out of 100 it would fall outside this range.
The smaller the survey sample, the more uncertain the estimate and the wider the confidence interval. For example, the number of Chinese people sampled for this survey is relatively small compared with the entire population, so we can be less certain about the estimate for the smaller group. This greater uncertainty for Chinese people is expressed by the wider confidence interval of between 46.0% and 53.3%.
Statistically significant findings have been determined where the 95% confidence intervals of an ethnic group do not overlap when comparing with another ethnic group or between time periods.
The Normal Approximation method for calculating confidence intervals has been used.
For further details of the sampling method, weighting and confidence intervals see the Active People Survey technical report (PDF opens in a new window or tab).
Figures have been rounded to 1 decimal point.
Further technical information
The Active People Survey is being replaced with the Active Lives Survey
4. Data sources
Type of data
Type of statistic
No longer published
Purpose of data source
The survey monitored the amount of sport people play. As well as overall strategy and insight, this information underpinned performance management of the national governing bodies
Type of data
Type of statistic
Public Health England
Purpose of data source
The Active People Survey measures participation in sport and active recreation, and provides details of how participation varies from place to place and between different groups in the population. It was carried out on behalf of Sport England by the social research company TNS BMRB.
5. Download the data
This file contains the following: ethnicity, year, value, denominator, confidence intervals, unweighted sample size