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5 a day isn’t enough… or is it?
“Make sure to have your 5 a day!” A mantra, almost ingrained into my brain ever since I was in school. The 5 a Day scheme has been around for ages in the UK, and at this point, everyone knows about it, in fact, we probably can’t go shopping in a grocery store without reading it somewhere. The idea comes from the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommendation that the average person should consume 400g of fruit and vegetable a day. The UK government to break this down into 5 portions of 80g, and thus was born the famous “5 a day” that we know today. But, what’s the science behind this?
University College London, a prestigious university, conducted a large scale study in England. The study started in 2001 and ended in 2013, and involved 65,000 people all over the country. They studied the effects of eating fruit and vegetables and monitored the impacts of people's health from this. The study discovered that the 5 a-day isn’t the best amount of fruit/veg to consume. In fact, the studies suggest that 7 portions of fruit are better, with 10 portions showing the best result.
So why, knowing this information, do we still insist on 5 a day? Go to a supermarket, look at the posters, the products, the stalls, the cash machines. Everywhere, 5 a day. A lot of us don’t even have 5 a day! But then… why would we have 7 a day? Or even the wonderful 10 a day to show the best results? This was already thought about when the campaign started in 2002. Sure, any more than 5 a day helps, but 5 a day is attainable. It’s more realistic. We can all go “You know what, I can probably sneak 5 little pots of fruit in a day” if we really tried. But not everyone could probably do 10.
That’s when you realise the campaign wasn’t actually all too bad, all though you don’t the campaign worked; it did. Every single one of us has heard about the 5 a day mantra, in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to find someone that hasn’t. We know that it’s worked because it’s not just the government that’s posting the 5 a day schemes. It’s the food companies too. These companies know that there’s only a benefit from having the 5 a day label on their packaging. We notice these little labels, and it could be the little bit of decision of us looking at an item going “Ah… it couldn’t hurt.” and tossing it into our shopping cart ready to be consumed.
At the end of the day, the government can’t actually force us to eat healthily, they can inform us and try to coax us into doing it, but they can’t force us. And coaxing, is pretty much what they did. We all are aware of the benefits, we see it everywhere. It’s ingrained in our brains and will remain there forever. So… why not?