While our kids have the 5+ A Day message loud and clear, New Zealand adults are lagging behind. Research shows that while 78 per cent of Kiwis are familiar with 5+ A Day, only around 40 percent of adults meet the recommended daily intake of fruit and vegetables.
Results from the latest National Nutrition survey indicate that half of men and 44% of women (aged 19-30) aren’t even getting three servings a day of vegetables.
The situation is worse for older adults, with 28% of women and 41% of men not meeting this vegetable target.
With one third of the typical adult diet consumed during the working day, 5+ A Day is challenging New Zealanders to “Get Real with 5+ A Day@Work” during 5+ A Day Fruit and Vegetable Month. The challenge is to encourage Kiwis to up their intake of fruit and vegetables during their workday for better health.
It is well known that healthy eating results in healthier employees, less sick days and increased productivity. However, eating on the run, workplace morning teas, catered lunches and vending machine food makes meeting the daily requirement of fruit and vegetables difficult.
“In my experience of talking to workers throughout New Zealand from building sites, banks, law firms and IT companies, it still amazes me that there are so many people who will eat so little fruit and vegetables,” says Nutritionist Claire Turnbull, who runs Mission Nutrition and is the Nutritionist for Healthy Food Guide Magazine and Newstalk ZB.
“People often think they are eating fruit and vegetables every day, but when they actually write down what they eat for a week, they realise they aren’t having nearly as much as they think,” she says.
“It is well known that a healthy balanced diet can help you feel better and live longer,” Claire says, “I encourage people to get into a regular routine when it comes to including their fruit and vegetables, an example would be to have a serving of fruit with breakfast every day and a serving at afternoon tea and then a handful of vegetables with your lunch and at least two handfuls at dinner.”
Research indicates that a diet high in fruit and vegetables may help to reduce just about every disease known to humans, including rates of cancer, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis and many other conditions.
“Fruit and vegetables are low in fat, low in calories, high in fibre, and rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients,” she says.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables doesn’t need to cost a fortune. A household of four is able to purchase a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables for as little as $40 per week. In addition, bringing a packed lunch from home is better value than buying a lunch from a city lunch bar or café.
This November, 5+ A Day is raising New Zealanders’ awareness of what they consume during the work day and challenging them to include more fruit and vegetables. Whether it’s including extra fruit and vegetables with lunch or reaching for a juicy apple rather than biscuits at morning tea, working Kiwis will be one step closer to a healthier and more productive day.
The message this year is - fresh fruit and vegetables are real easy, real value and real fast!