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Vegetable consumption plummets despite healthy-eating campaigns.

BRITONS are eating fewer vegetables despite millions of pounds being spent on the five-a-day campaign, according to a report today.

Figures from the fresh produce organisation Freshfel Europe reveal British consumers ate 1% more fruit in 2008 compared with the previous five-year average, but vegetable consumption plummeted by 11%, The Grocer reported.

Overall European fruit consumption fell 1% in that period, with vegetable consumption dropping by 14%. Europeans ate an average of 439lb (199kg) of fruit and vegetables per person in 2008, an 8% drop.

The figures follow several years of Government-promoted healthy-eating campaigns, including five-a-day, Change4Life and the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme.

The Department of Health has spent pounds 3.3m on the five-a-day campaign alone in the past four years, a spokeswoman told the trade magazine.

Today's figures follow a study released earlier this week casting doubt on the cancer-preventing benefits of eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Fresh Produce Consortium chief executive Nigel Jenney told The Grocer: "It's disappointing to see further confirmation that we continue to fail as a nation to enjoy a healthy diet.

"The fresh produce industry recognises the challenges it faces and it's vital that we focus efforts on generic campaigns to encourage people of all ages to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, irrespective of origin.

"The UK Government's five-a-day programme needs to put greater emphasis on eating fresh rather than suggesting that highly-processed food can be an acceptable alternative for healthy eating." In October, Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Hilary Benn set up a joint Government and industry taskforce to produce an action plan to increase domestic fruit and vegetable production and fight obesity.

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BASKET CASE: Fruit and veg campaigns are not working
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Apr 10, 2010
Words:288
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