WHO and FAO announce global initiative to promote consumption of fruit and vegetables
Low fruit and vegetable intake a key risk factor for conditions such as heart disease, cancer and obesity
11 November 2003 | GENEVA -- World Health Organization (WHO) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) announced today a unified approach to promote greater consumption of fruit and vegetables.
Low fruit and vegetable intake is estimated to cause some 2.7 million deaths each year, and was among the top 10 risk factors contributing to mortality, according to the World Health Report 2002.
The announcement was made in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at the annual meeting of the WHO Global Forum on Noncommunicable Disease (NCD) Prevention and Control.
“There is strong and growing evidence that sufficient consumption of fruits and vegetables helps prevent many diseases and promotes good health, but large parts of the world’s population consume too little of these,” said Dr Pekka Puska, WHO Director, NCD Prevention and Health Promotion, in Rio.
A recently published report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases recommends the intake of a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding starchy tubers such as potatoes) for the prevention of chronic diseases including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables helps ensure an adequate intake of most micronutrients, dietary fibres and a host of beneficial non-nutrient substances, say the two UN agencies.
Increased fruit and vegetable consumption can also help displace excessive consumption of foods high in fats, sugars or salt.
Low fruit and vegetable intake is estimated to cause about 31 per cent of ischaemic heart disease and 11 per cent of stroke worldwide. The WHO International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) estimates that the preventable per centage of cancer due to low fruit and vegetable intake ranges from 5−12 per cent for all cancers, and up to 20−30 per cent for upper gastrointestinal tract cancers.
- Fruit and Vegetables for Health Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Workshop, 1–3 September 2004, Kobe, Japan
- Effectiveness in promoting fruit & veg, Pomerleau et al, WHO - compares success of countries in promoting 400g/day fruit & veg.