Just one in five get 'five a day': Britons fail to swallow fruit and vegetable advice



10:45 GMT, 14 May 2012

Having five pieces of fruit and veg a day is the building block of a healthy diet, say experts

Having five pieces of fruit and veg a day is the building block of a healthy diet, say experts

Just 22 per cent of people manage to eat the recommended 'five a day' portions of fruit and vegetables, research suggests.

The Department of Health first encouraged people to hit the healthy-eating target in 2003.

But the World Cancer Research Fund said their study of more than 2,000 adults revealed this was too challenging for many.

Those living in the north struggled more with just 18 per cent hitting their quota compared to 26 per cent in the south. In London, it was 21 per cent, in Scotland 22 per cent and in Wales 23 per cent.

Income also had a large impact with 17 per cent of people in low-earning households eating five a day compared to 27 per cent of high-earners.

WCRF head of education Kate Mendoza said: 'Getting at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is the building block of a healthy diet.

'A diet based on plant foods, such as whole grains and pulses as well as fruit and vegetables, can reduce cancer risk as research shows they protect against a range of cancers. Recent research has confirmed that foods containing fibre reduce the risk of bowel cancer.

'A lot of WCRF's work focuses on raising awareness of the importance of diet, physical activity and body weight in relation to cancer risk. Although people are more aware of the significance of eating 'five a day' than they used to be, it is clear that there are still barriers to incorporating plant foods into our daily diets.'

A spokeswoman for the charity said it commissioned the survey to coincide with Cancer Prevention Week, which starts today.

A Department of Health spokesman said: 'We know we need to do more to encourage people to eat their five a day and help prevent diseases like cancer.

'That is why, through our Change4Life campaign, we invested around 10 million last year on encouraging healthier lifestyles.

'This included things like the Supermeals campaign which promoted five a day by giving recipe ideas and money-off fruit and vegetables in retail stores.

'We are also encouraging children to get their five a day through the scheme which gives them a free piece of fruit or vegetable at school every day. Over 2.1 million children benefit from the scheme.'

For more information on the Change4Life campaign visit www.nhs.uk/change4life