Efforts to promote the consumption of fruits and vegetables

In a recent review published in the journal Appetite, researchers from the University of Sydney, Australia, present an overview of the major campaigns of the last two decades, that have aimed to promote a long-term and sustainable increase in fruit and vegetable intake.

Large-scale surveys in Europe, the US and Australia have shown that the average intake of fruits and vegetables in the general population is much lower than the recommended 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day according to the World Health Organization (WHO).  This increases the risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.

In order to cope with this problem, governmental authorities around the globe, often in collaboration with industry and non-profit organisations, have initiated information and education campaigns to increase the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

According to countries, these programs are different, so, it’s difficult to compare their effectiveness. Nevertheless, the authors suggest that the Danish  ‘6 A Day’ and the British ‘Food Dudes’ programmes have been more successful in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, while the ‘Go for 2&5’, ‘Fruits & Veggies – More Matters’ and ‘5+ A Day’ programmes were more effective in increasing awareness, rather than actual consumption among consumers.
The impact of these initiatives was considered modest by the authors, and insufficient to meet the WHO recommendations.

To increase the effectiveness of future interventions, the authors suggest that price factors, seasonality, earnings or education level are taken into account when designing and implementing campaigns to promote fruit and vegetable .

The authors suggest that interventions should aim at increasing consumption frequency rather than serving size, and that fruits and vegetables should be targeted separately, with a greater focus on increasing the consumption of vegetables.  Further research is needed to develop novel and effective approaches which will ultimately achieve actual and sustainable behavioural change.

Rekhy R and McConchie R (2014). Promoting consumption of fruit and vegetables for better health. Have campaigns delivered on the goals? Appetite. 79;113–123. DOI: 10.1016/j.appet.2014.04.012.