Australians not meeting WHO vegetable consumption goals

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags World health organisation Nutrition

Most Australians do not meet World Health Organisation standards for vegetable consumption and now research points to a lack of understanding about the nutritional benefits of vegetables, with health benefit labelling potentially providing the answer. 

Although there are some notable exceptions—there was a high awareness about some nutritional benefits of carrots (vision) and spinach (iron/energy)—using the carrot rather than the stick might help more people meet the guidelines of approximately five serves a day, according to a Sydney University researcher, Reetica Rekhy. 

The findings were published this month in Nutrition & Dietetics​ by lead author Rekhy under supervision from co-author Robyn McConchie. 

Rekhy, from Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences, said although almost one in two Australians eat the recommended two serves of fruit daily, her survey of 1000 adults found only 6% of adults consumed the recommended serves of vegetables. 

Just knowing you should eat your veggies has not proven sufficient; consumption even in developed countries falls short of the daily intake recommended by the World Health Organisation​,” she said. 

It’s possible that with labelling the health benefits of specific vegetables on retail packs, point of sale advertising and other marketing collateral, this could change​.” 

Although it was generally known that it was important to eat vegetables for health reasons, Rekhy said survey respondents did not have a good understanding about specific nutritional benefits of most vegetables. 

Rekhy said the basis for the study was the fact that appropriate vegetable consumption was crucial to reduce the risk of diseases such as cardiovascular conditions, cancers and obesity. 

“Some of the most challenging consumers are children. My own experience is to hide it in the food, but also get them to understand that they’re eating delicious vegetables,” the mother of a five-year-old said. 

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