A new study from Auckland University of Technology (AUT) suggests the recommended daily servings of fruits and vegetables should be in direct proportion to body size. In short: The bigger you are, the more fruit and vegetables you need to eat to achieve the same health benefits as those who weigh less.
Building on that cliché that eating too many carrots can turn your skin orange, professor of nutrition Elaine Rush used that concept, and a small device called a Veggie Meter, to measure the colour and intensity of carotenoids in the skin of nearly 600 New Zealanders. Lo and behold: Those who had a larger body size had lower levels of carotenoids.
On average, a person weighing 100kg with the same body fat as a person weighing 50kg would need twice the amount of carotenoids to reach the same 'status', Rush's research found.
This would mean someone weighing 100kg would need a whole cup of carrots, pumpkin or peas to reach the recommended level, when the standard serving size is just half a cup. They would also need two cups of salad, spinach or silverbeet – rather than the standard one cup serve – to achieve the same health benefits as someone smaller.
New Zealanders still don’t eat enough vegetables
Previous research showed that fewer than half of all New Zealand children are eating enough fruit and veg, and only about a third of Auckland adults. Rush told Stuff the findings reiterate the fact that New Zealanders were "just are not eating enough" vegetables. Improving access to fresh vegetables and fruit was an important public health issue, which could prevent illnesses such as diabetes, stroke and heart disease, she said.
The study was funded by the New Zealand Nutrition Foundation, and undertaken as part of the Bayer Food Focus Project.