According to the results of a survey commissioned by the National Charity Partnership - an initiative backed by Diabetes UK, the British Heart Foundation and Tesco – while UK consumers are aware of the “five-a-day” message there is widespread confusion over how big a serving actually is.
The survey, which polled 2,000 people, found only 23% of respondents were correctly able to identify a portion of fruit or veg as a cupped handful. Over half, 51%, responded with a different amount and 26% simply said they did not know.
Eighty grams of fruit or vegetable counts as one portion of your five a day. This is equivalent to 30g of dried fruit and veg or 150ml of juice or smoothie.
The National Charity Partnership is launching the ‘Hands on Healthy Eating’ project to boost awareness of fruit and vegetable consumption through a series of roadshows and educational activities.
The activities aim to raise awareness of correct portion sizes and provide inspiration on different ways for people to include more fruit and vegetables into their diets.
Katherine Hale, the prevention programme manager for the National Charity Partnership, said: “We all know that we should aim for five portions of fruit and veg a day, but if we don’t know what a portion really is, it’s difficult to achieve.
“Fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and a diet rich in fruit and vegetables can reduce your risk of developing serious long-term conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and heart and circulatory disease. We should aim to include at least one portion of fruit and veg in every meal and make them the first choice when it comes to snacking in between meals.”
UK government recommendations suggest that people should eat at least five portions of fruit and vegetables each day. According to the Eat Well Guide, published by Public Health England, people should combine this with starchy carbohydrates – preferably whole grains – and reduced sugar consumption.
“The evidence shows that we should continue to base our meals on starchy carbohydrates, especially wholegrain, and eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day,” Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, explained when the Guide was published.
“On the whole, cutting back on foods and drinks that are high in saturated fat, salt, sugar and calories would improve our diets, helping to reduce obesity and the risk of serious illnesses such as heart disease and some cancers.”