Five-a-day fruit and vegetable advice 'unrealistic'


When it comes to fruit and vegetables, two-a-day, rather than five, might be more realistic advice to give families, a top U.K. doctor asserts.

The National Health Service in England has recommended tucking into the particular amount of healthy goods a day since the government initiative was set up in 2003 in the hope of boosting people’s health.

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However, according to the chairman of the Royal College of GPs Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, this aim is unachievable as many families with low incomes can’t afford to purchase fresh produce. Instead, she believes GPs should suggest one or two portions, as any amount is better than none at all.

Current figures show that only a quarter of men aged between 19 and 64 eat all of their five a day, along with just 28 per cent of females. As for youngsters aged between 11 and 18, they eat fewer than three portions. In Australia, the health service recommends people eat two pieces of fruit and five or six portions of vegetables a day, which many believe is a more achievable target.

“If people see something as unachievable, they won’t even start. We should give them the advice that anything is better than nothing,” Dr Stokes-Lampard told The Observer newspaper.

She also voiced her opinions on how doctors approach getting patients to quit smoking or drinking, pointing out that telling them to stop outright will cause a person to “switch off” and pay no attention.

“Many people love to smoke still. Any reduction they can make is a good thing,” she added. “Encourage them to reduce. If you only say to them ‘the only positive outcome is quitting’, then you’re going to turn them off, you’re not going to be able to have an ongoing conversation.”

Her opinions haven’t gone down well with other health experts though, as Professor Mike Lean, professor of nutrition at Glasgow University is disappointed that someone in such as high position isn’t promoting the five-a-day guidance.

He targeted her comments about expenses of fresh produce, noting: “People always say it is expensive but you don’t have to spend a lot of money and often people who do not buy fruit and vegetables because of the cost are buying 10 or 20 cigarettes a day, coloured waters like Coca Cola, and McDonald’s, which is downright damaging.”

Further, a Department of Health spokesman stressed the health benefits and importance of five a day, adding that Government Healthy Start vouchers can help those less fortunate to eat better.

© Cover Media

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