The CSIRO has just released Australia’s largest ever fruit and vegetable survey, and the findings aren’t good.
They spoke to 145,975 people across the country and found four out of five Australian adults aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables to meet recommended dietary guidelines.
The Fruit, Vegetables and Diet Score report found one in two adults was not eating the recommended intake of fruit. Two in three adults were not eating enough vegetables.
The in-depth survey was the largest of its kind ever conducted in Australia. It followed participants’ dietary habits over an 18-month period.
The findings showed that overall our diets are not as healthy as we think they are.
Which gender and age bracket had the healthiest diet?
The report found women had a slightly higher fruit and vegetable intake, with 24 per cent of female participants meeting both guidelines, compared with only 15 per cent of men.
Retirees and health industry workers were more likely to meet the recommended dietary guidelines. However, younger adults and unemployed people performed the worst.
Meanwhile, construction workers and those in the science and programming sector recorded the poorest fruit and vegetable eating habits.
CSIRO research director Professor Manny Noakes said the findings showed most Australians need to up their fruit and vegetable intake.
She said variety was the key to meeting dietary recommendations. It is important to eat three different types of vegetables with every evening meal.
“Many Aussies believe themselves to be healthy, yet this report shows the majority of those surveyed are not getting all the beneficial nutrients from fruit and vegetables needed for a healthy, balanced diet,” Professor Noakes said.
“Younger men are certainly … the ones that eat the fewest fruits and vegetables and could certainly do with doubling their intake. However, women are generally doing a lot better than men overall,” Professor Noakes told the ABC.
The study was commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia, a not-for-profit research, development and marketing organisation that is owned by fruit and vegetable growers.
The organisation’s chief executive John Lloyd said Australians should be leading the way in fruit and vegetable consumption.
“For a country with an abundance of high-quality, locally-grown fruit and vegetables available all year round, it’s disappointing. Many Australians are missing out and not enjoying enough variety in their diets,” he said.
“Australian growers are adapting to the consumer’s need for convenience. They bring high-quality fresh produce from the farm to the table in ready-to-cook and eat packaging. This makes it easier for time-poor adults to add more nutritious fruit and vegetables into their diets.”
The benefits of eating more fruits and vegetables
Professor Noakes said increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables we eat is one of the simplest ways to combat the growing rates of obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
“Diets high in fruit and vegetables have been shown to improve psychological and physical markers of wellbeing,” she said.
“In particular, phytochemicals from fruit and vegetables reduce systemic inflammation which can lead to chronic disease.”
If you want to know how your diet stacks up, take a few minutes to complete the CSIRO’s Healthy Diet Score survey, a free questionnaire that evaluates diet quality and even identifies ways you can improve you diet.
For tips on which fruits and vegetables to eat and transitioning to a healthier diet, check out these articles by House Call Doctor: