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Fred Searle

BY FRED SEARLE

Evidence mounts for 10-a-day target

Average British adult gets just 3.8 portions a day despite studies showing that 10-a-day has major benefits for physical and mental health

Evidence mounts for 10-a-day target

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Despite growing evidence that people should in fact eat 10 portions of fruit and veg a day, the majority of British adults fail to reach the five-a-day target.

According to the NHS, just 29 per cent of adults ate five portions a day in 2017, with the average being 3.8 portions. 

Fewer men than women met the target, with youngsters aged 16-24 also less likely than other adults to hit the quota. Among children aged 5-15, less than one in five (18 per cent) managed five portions. 

In early 2017, Imperial College London's School of Public Health pooled results from 95 separate studies involving two million people and made a recommendation that individuals should strive to eat ten portions per day.

Analysis of the studies showed that doing so would slash disease risk across the board. 

Broken down by illness, 10-a-day (or 800g) was said to slash stroke risk by 33 per cent, cardiovascular disease risk by 28 per cent, heart disease risk by 24 per cent, total cancer risk by 13 per cent and premature death risk by 31 per cent. 

Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the research received widespread media coverage, andtwo years on another large-scale analysis has achieved the same feat, this time concerning the psychological benefits of fruit and veg. 

In the new study, published in Social Science and Medicine, researchers from the Universities of Leeds and York assessed surveys from over 40,000 people in the UK, drawing on data collected over a decade. 

When controlled for factors such as physical health, age, employment status, income and education, consumption of fruit and vegetables was shown to be linked to increases in mental wellbeing and life satisfaction.

Researchers noted that "mental wellbeing responds in a dose-response fashion to increases in both the quantity and frequency of fruit and vegetables consumed." 

The positive impact that fruit and veg can have on your mental wellbeing was shown to be perhaps greater than you might expect. 

According to the report: "A five-portion increase in the number of fruits and vegetables consumed (on a day with positive consumption) would be associated with a 0.67-unit increase in mental wellbeing.

“This would be approximately equivalent in magnitude to the estimated wellbeing loss from widowhood (−0.68), and approximately one third of the estimated impact from unemployment, which is known to have one of the largest effects on subjective wellbeing." 

Increasing the regularity of vegetable consumption from never to 4-6 days per week, meanwhile, "generates approximately the same estimated increase in life satisfaction as being married, whereas moving in the opposite direction (reducing consumption from 4-6 days per week to never) generates approximately the same estimated loss in life satisfaction as being widowed." 

Lastly, upping your intake by one portion a day was said to be as beneficial to mental health as going for a walk an extra 7-8days each month. 

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