India’s fruit and vegetable intake less than standard, finds study

Only 21.2 per cent Indians consume fruits and vegetables that are an essential source of phytonutrients

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Friday 05 February 2016

Even after being one of the largest producers of fruits and vegetables, India’s consumption of these food items is less than the standard, a new study has revealed. Only 21.2 per cent of the respondents consume nutritional supplements, the study published on February 5 found.

The report, based on secondary information analysis and a survey of 1,001 people across different states, has tried to understand the production, availability and consumption pattern of fruits and vegetables in India.

A 2003 World Health Organization (WHO) report on diet, nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases says that insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables is estimated to cause around 14 per cent of all gastrointestinal cancer deaths, about 11 per cent of ischaemic heart disease deaths and about 9 per cent of stroke deaths. As per the report, low fruit and vegetable intake is among the top 10 risk factors contributing to attributable mortality, according to evidence presented in World Health Report 2003.

The WHO has recommended a daily intake of at least 400 grams of fruits and vegetables excluding potatoes, cassava and other starchy tubers (or five daily servings with an average serving size of 80g) to prevent diet-related chronic diseases and micronutrient deficiencies. It has scientifically established that fruits and vegetables are essential sources of phytonutrients, which promote a range of health benefits.

The recent report called “India’s Phytonutrient Report: A Snapshot of Fruits and Vegetables Consumption, Availability and Implications for Phytonutrient Intake” is authored by Arpita Mukherjee, Souvik Dutta and Tanu M Goyal. It says that the consumption is relatively high in southern cities (Chennai and Hyderabad) and is the lowest in Mumbai.

Among all respondents, only 8.8 per cent students and 12.4 per cent in the age group of 18-25 years consume these food items. Intake of supplements is higher among vegetarians—27.4 per cent vegetarians consume fruits and vegetables—as opposed to 17.3 per cent of the non-vegetarians surveyed.

It adds that the average intake of fruits and vegetables is 3.5 servings per day, 1.5 servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables. The average intake of the younger generation is even lower—for 18-25 years it is 2.97 servings per day and for 18-35 years it is 3.3 servings per day. Among the students, the average intake is 2.94 servings per day. Housewives do better in terms of fruits and vegetables intake with an average intake of 3.65 servings as compared to working individuals who consume is 3.5 servings per day.



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