Two UN agencies call for more fruit and vegetable consumption

“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,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director Pekka Puska told WHO’s annual Global Forum on Non-communicable Disease (NCD) Prevention and Control, meeting this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.“To effectively promote more consumption of fruit and vegetables, prevailing diets need to be more systematically assessed for their nutrition and health implications,” Kraisid Tontisirin, Director of the Food and Agricultural Organization’s (FAO’s) Food and Nutrition Division, said.A recently published report by nutrition experts, jointly convened by FAO and WHO, recommends a minimum of 400 grams of fruit and vegetables per day, excluding starchy vegetables, for the prevention of such chronic diseases as heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and obesity.The consultants said eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables helps to ensure an adequate intake of most micronutrients, dietary fibres and beneficial non-nutrient substances, the two UN agencies said.According to the FAO statistical database, the total supply of fruit and vegetables is far below the intake minimum in many countries, especially in Asia, Africa and in Eastern and Central Europe.Mahmoud Solh, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division, said many countries needed to find more efficient ways of producing and marketing cheaper fruits and vegetables, while using less pesticide.