Five-a-day should stay

Following a study by researchers at University College London that eating seven or more portions of fruit and veg per day better protects against the risk of death than the current five-a-day guideline, Cambridge University’s Dr Nita Forouhi has stated that she believes the five-a-day message works and should be retained.

The research, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, found that the risk of death by any cause was reduced by 14% by those eating between one and three portions of fruit or veg a day but 42% for those eating seven or more.

However, although admitting that the research was “well done”, Forouhi said: “A change to increase the current five-a-day message to seven or more a day on the basis of this study is not warranted. There is no strong evidence for such a change, and the suggestion by some quarters to consider changing the message to ten-a-day is simply not supported by the data.

“The results are based on a single assessment of food intake in the previous 24 hours, with no longer assessment of intake, adjustment for total calorie intake was not possible, accounting for other dietary factors was also not possible, yet this is important to do, and there was little evidence of a linear dose response.”

Forouhi emphasized that the present guideline is to consume “at least” five-a-day. “Current efforts will therefore be better spent in getting the population intake to meet the guideline of eating at least five-a-day, which offers a win-win for all … As for those who already meet the five-a-day goal, this study supports they can increase their intake, and is covered by the “at least” bit of the five-a-day message already.”