This population-based survey carried out on adolescents has detected low frequency of fruits, vegetables, and five-a-day intake. Among several characteristics only overweight was associated with increased intake of five-a-day, regardless of age range, male sex, vigorous physical activity, and higher alcohol consumption. Even though, individually fruits and vegetables were not associated. Rice and beans have been consumed daily by most of the adolescents, and boys had more servings a day than girls, independently of confounding factors.
The overall five-a-day intake was lower than the reported for the American adolescents in the study EAT (Eating Among Teens), which showed that approximately a third reached the servings recommended . In contrast, among middle and upper class adolescents, from private schools from Venezuela, 74% had five or more servings of fruits and 42% more than five portions of green vegetables per day . On the other side, this pattern of fiber and grain consumption - typical of the Brazilian diet  - corroborated previous results from a population-based study in adolescents from southern Brazil . However, black beans and rice were not associated with BMI, as it has been reported for adults .
The recommendations of the five-a-day program in Brazil have not been advertised as it was in some developed countries . Information aiming the adolescent population should be provided including items belonging to the five-a-day program. White rice is an important source of energy, similar to the potato in other countries, and should be part of the dietary health plan as well as beans.
The higher prevalence of obesity among boys was different of previous studies [34, 35]. Considering that the sub-analysis of BMI by gender was detected on adolescents aged 18 to 19 years, a potential explanation could be higher muscular development of boys than girls. This finding could not be discriminated by BMI that does not differentiate lean mass from fat mass.
The direct associations between socioeconomic status and consumption of fruits and vegetables or five-a-day detected in previous studies [10, 13, 14, 35–37] were based on income or the education of a family member. In this study, instead, we evaluated the education of the adolescent. Since they have a small range of years at school, the association did not reach statistical significance. The association between age and intake of some food groups have been reported [7, 38, 39] and accounted for the inclusion of age as a confounding factor in this study.
The association between vigorous physical activity and higher intake of fruits seems to be part of positive habits in the adolescent’s lifestyle , which might be clustered with other healthy behaviors such as lower rate of smoking . Even so, it was detected an association between overweight and five-a-day intake. This association could reflect that those adolescents eat more everything, including fruits and vegetables, or even that those who have the higher BMI are eating more fruit and vegetables because they are trying to lose weight. The cross-sectional design does not preclude reverse causality as a potential explanation for this finding.
This study has other limitations that deserve to be mentioned. The food intake was estimated by a FFQ over a twelve months period, and specific questions were asked regarding fruits and vegetables consumption in the 24 hours before the interview. Even both instruments being susceptible to biases, they were validated for adolescents from southern Brazil  in the Syndrome of Obesity and Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Disease (SOFT) study. In addition, portion size varies according to the participant and the population setting. Data from the EPIC-Norfolk study have demonstrated a discrepancy in portion sizes for different fruits and vegetables, being the servings of fruits usually greater but vegetables smaller than 80 grams . This value is close to an averaged serving of fruits and vegetables. Considering that frequency of intake could be more important than the serving size, to classify individuals as having a minimum intake of 400 grams of fruits and vegetables per day, these potential biases are not likely to affect the results.
A systematic review of the effectiveness of the program of five-a-day identified an increase from 0.1 to 1.4 servings per day in a setting of primary prevention . Adolescents from Southern Brazil already have that average consumption of fruits and vegetables, suggesting that the target program’s five-a-day can be more easily achieved. In addition to increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables, young people should be informed that rice and beans are not part of five servings per day. Finally, the diversity of fruits and vegetables can be an advantage to be explored in a five-a-day program.
In conclusion, adolescents from southern Brazil have a low frequency of five servings a day of combined fruits and vegetables. The detailed description of the current pattern of diet by adolescent may guide a strategy to recommend five-a-day in the country. The data about adolescents from developing countries helps to fulfill a gap on intake of fruits and vegetables. Our study provides information for adolescents from a representative population-based sampling from southern Brazil, and dietary intake was acquired through rigorous epidemiological methodology.