South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition

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“Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day”: A food-based dietary guideline for South Africa

CE Naude


An extensive body of research demonstrates an association between vegetable and fruit intake and reduced disease risk. Available evidence indicates that greater vegetable and fruit intake has been associated with the reduced risk of many of the nutrition-related diseases and risk factors that contribute substantially to the burden of disease in South Africa. The objective of this paper is to examine current information on vegetable and fruit intake in South Africa. Using this information and other evidence, it aimed to substantiate the need for a food-based dietary guideline (FBDG) that promotes vegetable and fruit intake, namely: “Eat plenty of vegetables and fruit every day”. Furthermore, it serves to provide healthcare workers and policy-makers with background and quantitative information that is relevant the FBDG that promotes vegetable and fruit intake. Available data indicate that on national, household and individual levels in South Africa, quantities of available and consumed vegetables and fruit are much lower than the recommendations for children and adults, and the contribution of vegetables and fruit to nutrients in the diets of children is low. The evidence supports the need for a South African FBDG that promotes vegetable and fruit intake, in order to educate the public
and inform policy-makers about the importance of greater vegetable and fruit intake. Practical considerations that complement this FBDG have been provided, including recommendations on variety, quantities and serving sizes across the life cycle. Recommendations for the implementation of the FBDG and overcoming barriers to eating adequate quantities of vegetables and fruit are outlined. It is recommended that evaluation and monitoring processes, at all levels of implementation of this and other FBDGs, be instituted.

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