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Some Kiwis Still Ignore Fruit & Veg



While nearly half of New Zealand women are keen to munch their recommended 5 plus daily quota of fruit and vegies - other segments of the population are lagging behind.

Men for instance eat only 3.7 servings daily - instead of the recommended five or more. Maori opt for 3.6 servings, while Pacific Island peoples consume even less - 3.5 servings.

These findings were conducted for 5+ A Day by Research International, which surveyed 500 New Zealanders in 15 centres last month. And their results provide interesting food for thought.

Takeaway food, for example, is being eaten to excess by some of us more than others. While 6% of Pakeha had eaten deep fried food like battered fish, hot chips, chicken nuggets and fried chicken five times or more in the previous week - the figures for Maori and Pacific Island peoples ballooned in comparison. Some 20% of Maori and 23 % of Pacific Island people admitted eating fried takeaway food at least five times in the past week.

Maori and Pacific Island people also showed a preference for instant foods - such as potato and corn chips, instant pasta, and frozen prepared TV dinners. Of those surveyed, 19% of Maori had eaten instant food five times or more in the past week - compared with 34% of Pacific Island people and 9% of Pakeha. Pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers also had a strong following - with 16% of Maori eating them twice in the past week - compared to 21% of Pacific Island people and 4% of Pakeha.

Most of those surveyed appeared to be well aware of the health dangers involved in eating junk food on a regular basis. Some 76% agreed that the risk of getting heart disease or diabetes was likely to increase if they ate takeways regularly. But many believed that junk food did deserve a permanent place in their diet - with 68% believing that it would not affect their health long-term if they ate it only once a week.

In fact, 25% of Maori and Pacific Island peoples believed that their long term health was a matter of genetics, or luck - rather than diet.

So how important is a diet of fresh fruit and vegetables to New Zealanders? Recognition that 5+ servings a day of fruit and vegetables is the healthy way to eat has improved dramatically since this important health message was introduced to the nation six years ago. Back in 1995, we ate 3.9 servings daily. In 1999, this had increased to 4.4 servings.

As a nation, we do now believe that fruit and vegetables add variety to meals (90%), provide most of the minerals, vitamins and fibre needed (87%), help us enjoy a longer and healthier life (83%), and generally make us feel healthier (79%).

While 52 % of all New Zealanders surveyed said they had fruit or vegetables with every meal, the reasons why so many still fail to eat the recommended quantities varied. Some 32% said it was not always convenient to prepare this kind of food, while 23% preferred other foods, 29% said it took too much planning, 38% believed kids don't want to eat fresh fruit and vegetables and 13% considered that healthy food was unexciting and bland.

And while 79% of New Zealanders believe that fruit and vegetables generally make them feel healthier, many (47%) also believe that a good way to keep healthy is to opt for dietary supplements.




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