Do you get your five a day?

May 15, 2012, 9:55 AM GMT+0

Just 1 in 5 Britons eats five portions of fruit and veg a day, poll for Cancer Prevention Week finds

Just one in five Britons is eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, our poll for the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) has found, nearly a decade after the Department of Health introduced the 5 A DAY campaign.

The charity commissioned the survey of 2,128 British adults to coincide with Cancer Prevention Week, which runs from 14th-18th May, culminating in 'Fruity Friday', to encourage people to adopt healthier eating habits.

  • 22% of the British adult population is, on average, consuming five or more portions a day
  • This figure drops to 17% among those from lower-income households (social groups C2, D and E)
  • But rises to 27% for those in higher income groups A, B and C1

Regional eating

Around Britain, a North-South divide emerges, with fruit and vegetable consumption levels at their lowest in the North of England, and highest in the South.

  • 18% of those in the North answered that they had five or more portions daily
  • Compared to 26% of people in the South who said they ate at least five portions

Figures elsewhere were 21% for London, 22% for Scotland, 23% for both the Midlands and Wales and 24% for the Eastern England.

Five-a-day: Lose weight and cut cancer risk

WCRF Head of Education Kate Mendoza said: 'These figures show that many people are still finding it difficult to follow the healthy eating message. Getting at least five portions of fruit and vegetables a day is the building block of a healthy diet. Not only are fruit and veg a good source of nutrients, they also tend to be low in calories and full of fibre so help maintain a healthy weight.

'A diet based on plant foods, such as wholegrains and pulses as well as fruit and vegetables, can reduce cancer risk as research shows they protect against a range of cancers. Recent research also confirmed that foods containing fibre reduce the risk of bowel cancer.'

She added: 'A lot of WCRF’s work focuses on raising awareness of the importance of diet, physical activity and body weight in relation to cancer risk. Although people are more aware of the significance of eating "5 a day" than they used to be, it is clear that there are still barriers to incorporating plant foods into our daily diets.'

See the survey details and full results here

Fruity Friday is WCRF’s annual fundraising and awareness campaign to increase understanding of the links between diet, nutrition and cancer prevention. Scientists estimate that about a third of cancer cases could be avoided by people being more physically active, eating healthily and maintaining a healthy weight.

See more on Cancer Prevention Week