Research released today by the Florida industry shows that although 75 per cent of UK mums are aware of the 5-a-day principle, there is still uncertainty over what constitutes a portion.

One in 10 UK mothers think a portion of chips counts towards the recommended five servings of fruit and vegetables a day, while 60 per cent surveyed thought mashed potatoes counted.

Mike Yetter of the FDOC said: 'Our research findings clearly show that there is still a big job to do in educating the consumer about the 5-a-day message in terms of what foods do and do not count towards the daily tally. A glass of orange juice is not only a great way to start your day but also an easy way to gain one portion. Eat an entire grapefruit and that counts as a further two, so you'll be well on target to reaching the recommended daily five. ' Awareness of the 5-a-day advice was lowest in Wales and the North West, with 37 per cent of mothers unaware of the guidelines. Mothers in the South West came out on top with more than 90 per cent aware of the 5-a-day message.

Mothers in East Anglia were most savvy on the nutritional value of chips, with only three per cent thinking that they constitute a portion. The North East and North West also had a better understanding, with only six per cent and seven per cent respectively, thinking that chips counted. The misconception that chips can be included in the 5-a-day quota was highest in Wales and Scotland with a fifth of mothers believing this to be true.

Because junk food is more popular with children than healthy meals, mothers need to think smarter to ensure their children eat their share of fresh produce. More than half of mothers admitted that they have difficulty getting their children to eat the recommended daily serving. And the task of convincing children to eat fruit and vegetables appears to get tougher as children get older, with 58 per cent of mothers with children aged 12-18 finding it difficult to persuade their children to do so.

Mothers employed a variety of tactics to coax their children into eating healthy foods. The most popular was to offer praise to children when they eat a food that they don't like, used by 69 per cent of mothers. Other tactics include using recipes that hide or mask the taste of vegetables (39 per cent), withholding pocket money and other treats (28 per cent) and restricting television watching time (25 per cent).