SURREY, UNITED KINGDOM — Eating more fruits and vegetables may reduce risk of fatal diseases, but consumers are falling short of the serving recommendation, according to findings from Leatherhead Food Research.
Participants in a United Kingdom-based study who ate seven or more portions of produce a day had a 33% reduced risk of death from cardiovascular disease and cancer compared with those who ate less than one portion. The study, published by the University College London, included more than 65,000 randomly selected adults participating in the Health Survey for England.
But a recent poll by Leatherhead suggests consumers aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables to incur the benefits. A survey of 1,185 U.K. consumers found respondents average 4.3 portions a day, and nearly half said it would be difficult to eat seven.
Price and preparation prevent some from packing in more produce, respondents said. Additionally, half of consumers indicated their intake was adequate.
“Many consumers believe they are actually eating enough fruit and vegetables and can’t imagine how they would incorporate more into their diet,” said Emma Gubisch, strategic insight manager at Leatherhead. “The ‘five a day’ message has been picked up by consumers as a benchmark — if they believe they are managing to eat roughly five portions a day, then they think they are doing a good job. ‘Seven a day’ would require a shift in consumer mindset and behavior.”Food and beverage companies are well-positioned to help consumers meet the seven-a-day suggestion, but they must ensure products meet the portion criteria in order to make claims toward recommended fruit and vegetable servings, Leatherhead said.