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Fruit And Veg Key In Fight Against Cancer

Media Release
October 29, 2001


Fruit And Veg Key In Fight Against Cancer

It takes more than an apple a day to keep the doctor away, according to the Cancer Society which is lending its support to the promotion of 5+ A Day Week, October 29 – November 2.

The 5+ A Day programme is designed to encourage all New Zealanders to eat and enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables. The 5+ means five or more servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

The Cancer Society, as does the Ministry of Health, also recommends New Zealanders eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables each day – three vegetable and two fruit.

A Ministry of Health report, Our Health, Our Future: the Health of New Zealanders, published in 1999, attributed about 650 cancer deaths each year to not eating enough fruit and vegetables, says Cancer Society Health Promotion Manager Carolyn Watts.

An international conference hosted by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in June this year presented preliminary results from the European Investigation into cancer and nutrition. It found strong evidence of the link between not eating enough fruit and vegetables and some cancers.

“It is one of the largest studies looking at diet and cancer and involves nine European countries,” Ms Watts says.

The study found convincing or probable evidence that a high intake of fruit and vegetables had a decreasing risk of such cancers as mouth, pharynx and larynx, oesophagus, lung, stomach, pancreas, colon, rectum, breast and bladder.

”The 1997 New Zealand Nutrition Survey – the latest figures available - showed that less than half the adult population ate enough fruit and a third did not eat enough vegetables,” she says.

“The results from the Validation and Pre-testing of the Ministry of Health’s Nutrition Survey in 2000 were even more concerning. Seventy-nine percent of school age children ate less than the recommended three servings of vegetables each day and 41 percent ate less than two servings of fruit.”

Ms Watts says this finding adds even more importance to the 5+ a Day campaign of which the key target is primary school children.

“If we can change people’s attitude to fruit and vegetables at a young age, there is a greater chance they will continue good eating habits later in life.”


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