AU: Health benefit labelling may up veg consumption

Research has indicated that Australians, most of whom do not meet World Health Organisation standards for vegetable consumption, lack understanding about the nutritional benefits of vegetables. Hence, health benefit labelling could potentially increase consumption.

Although there are some notable exceptions – people tend to be aware of 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 research by University of Sydney PhD candidate, Reetica Rekhy.

The findings were published recently in Nutrition & Dietetics, by lead author Ms Rekhy under supervision from Professor Robyn McConchie, who is a co-author of the paper.

Ms Rekhy 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 vegies 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, Ms Rekhy said survey respondents did not have a good understanding about specific nutritional benefits of most vegetables.

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

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