Campaign for five-a-day may bear bitter fruit

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Nutrition

Food scientists fear the failure to correct claims that the cancer reduction benefits of eating fresh fruit and vegetables have been exaggerated could put people off eating more fruit and veg.

While widespread belief about the cancer-reducing potential of fruit and veg associated with the 'five-a-day' campaign has recently been called into question by the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition, there are scientifically valid reasons for eating more fruit and vegetables. They contain high levels of beneficial micronutrients and, having low energy density, aid satiety and help address obesity.

At a conference on 'Evidence based nutrition' organised by the Food & Health Forum of The Royal Society of Medicine, Peter Aggett, emeritus professor and former head of the Lancashire School of Health and Postgraduate Medicine, said that while evidence to support the 'five-a-day' message was lacking, the 'precautionary principle' should apply.

"Energy density is inversely related to the water content," Bridget Benelam, senior nutrition scientist with the British Nutrition Foundation, told the conference. "There is good evidence to support the fact that lower energy density foods increase satiety and reduce body weight."

Related topics: Fresh produce

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