Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guest Post: A Response to Fruits are NOT Vegetables

Last week saw a guest posting from RD Rob Lazzinnaro who is concerned that by lumping fruits and vegetables together we give marketers the ammunition to sell us fruit-washed junk food as well as risking personal dietary caloric excess. Today's guest posting come from RD Jennelle Arnew who is involved in the Aim For 8 Everyday campaign that inspired Rob's post.
Wow! We were surprised that our Aim for 8 everyday! messaging campaign made it to your blog site. In fairness to our campaign, we are hoping to put the Aim for 8 everyday! messaging into context for you and your followers.

Firstly, we agree with much of Rob Lazzinnaro’s argument of why he thinks it’s important to differentiate between fruit and vegetables. However, amongst many initiatives including our Aim for 8 everyday! campaign we believe by increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables regardless if it’s one or the other will likely translate to better health. The research tells us that replacing foods of higher caloric density with foods of lower density, such as fruits and vegetables, can be an important weight management strategy (1, 2). Our hope is that if people increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables they are more likely to decrease consumption of high caloric density foods.

Additionally, as many of your followers know, fruits and vegetables offer more important nutrients compared to high density foods (e.g., packaged foods and fast food options). Unfortunately, much of our population is consuming high density foods on a daily basis.

Unfortunately in Chatham-Kent, 70% of our adult population eat fruits and vegetables less than 5 or more times a day (3), AND we are the lowest consumers compared to other regions in Ontario (3). Among youth grades 9-12 (4):
  • 40% consume soft drinks at least once daily;
  • 27% consume drinks such as aides and cocktails at least once daily;
  • 13% are consuming potato chips one or more times per day;
  • 18% are consuming chocolate bars at least once daily;
  • 20% are consuming cookies at least once daily;
  • 60% are not eating breakfast on a daily basis.
The objectives of the Aim for 8 everyday! strategy are mainly to increase awareness about the health benefits of eating fruits and vegetables, and to teach people how to plan meals, cook, and prepare fruits and vegetables. We believe these types of health promotion strategies provide a specific targeted approached based on local needs.

We know that a messaging campaign on its own will not necessarily translate into behaviour change and we’ve incorporated a variety of other strategies to complement the Aim for 8 everyday! campaign. Our current food state is complex; however, amongst many other government and community initiatives we are striving for a standard whereby we can focus on community based promotion strategies which emphasize the importance of vegetables and fruits as exclusive, but important, components of healthy eating. However, considering Chatham-Kent’s current low consumption of both fruits and vegetables, the Aim for 8 everyday! strategy, while not necessarily differentiating between fruits and vegetables, aims to get people eating healthier through eating more fruits and vegetables.

Jennelle Arnew, RD, MSC

  1. Tohill BC, Seymour J, Serdula M, Kettel-Khan L, Rolls BJ. What epidemiologic studies tell us about the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and body weight. Nutr Rev. 2004;62:365-374.
  2. Rolls BJ, Ello-Martin JA, Tohill BC. What can intervention studies tell us about the relationship between fruit and vegetable consumption and weight management? Nutr Rev. 2004;62(1):1-17.
  3. Statistics Canada. Table 105-0502 - Health indicator profile, two year period estimates, by age group and sex, Canada, provinces, territories, health regions (2012 boundaries) and peer groups, occasional. (Accessed 2013).
  4. CCI Research Inc. Chatham-Kent Public Health Unit 2007 School Health Assessment Grades 9-12 Summary report. October 2008.

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  1. "The research tells us that replacing foods of higher caloric density with foods of lower density, such as fruits and vegetables, can be an important weight management strategy."

    I wonder if Ms. Arnew has seen this study, hot off the press, indicating that fruits and vegetables don't help with weight loss. Admittedly, weight loss isn't exactly the same as weight management.


  2. (looks like my comment disappeared, so just in case, I am re-posting)
    What I take from the two guest posts on this topic is:
    1) If you're not currently meeting your daily intake of F&V that you should aim to increase this, irrespective of the balance between F&V.
    2) If you are currently meeting your daily intake of F&V AND you are looking to reduce your weight, you should look at shifting the balance between F&V so that you are eating more low-cal veggies and fewer high-cal fruits.

    Am I wrong in thinking it's that simple/straightforward?

    1. That's what I get! Makes sense to me.

  3. It is interesting that the US myplate makes it 2 catagories, so a middle aged woman must eat 2.5 cups of veggies and 1.5 cups of fruit. They even tell you exactly how much of each kind of vegetable to consume over the course of a week. My biggest complaint is that all these recommendations look so good on paper but real life it doesn't work out so simply. I have been trying to follow the myplate guidlines as someone who is not overweight and gets in 10,000 steps and in theory the calories/nutrients should work out but the reality is that the way it works out is that I am eating 1200-1500 calories and although I am dropping weight(which I guess is good if you subscribe to the philosophy that thinner is always better), I feel terrible. I don't eat the fruit or milk servings, milk due to expense and fruit due to taste and it gives me stomach cramps. I do take a mutlivitamin with calcium to compensate. SO while I think the previous blog's main point was gummies and juice aren't fruit and people are stupid and will think this, or gorge on sweet fruit, if you don't get specific. This one seems to be any shift from less fruits and veggies to more is better, which seems more sensible. My husband is obese. His take on this is the comfort food provides against the huge stress of his life is worth the health cost of the extra fat he carries. So I stay thin, tired and unhappy by eating right and maintaining my normal weight and he stays fat, energetic and happy, perhaps this is an issue that needs to be addressed as much as what servings of what should be eaten. Neither the US plan nor the Canadian has a way to reassign calories or nutrients when you can't follow it exactly.

  4. All this could be well and fine if people (especially dietitians who should know better!) would just start saying “Vegetables & Fruit” – that’s the name of the food group now! Health Canada made a conscious choice to change the name from the old F&V to the new V&F and that name change is how I explain to people that the emphasis needs to be on veggies.

  5. We eat more fruits and vegetables than we've ever eaten before. How about promoting something that's actually nourishing and satisfying like fat and protein? Just a thought...

  6. I think that eating less often is very benefitial for maintaining healthy weight, and the current diet advice to snack every two hours is one of reasons our population is fat. There is no way eating two/three times a day could allow to consume that much produce without terribly stretching one's stomach.

  7. "we believe by increasing the consumption of fruits and vegetables regardless if it’s one or the other will likely translate to better health. "

    Now there is modern nutrition summed up succinctly. Believe? Likely?

    Just like saturated science causes heart disease, and protein causes cancer and....

    Please stop running these uncontrolled experiments on the unknowing populace. If you are going to make recommendations that affect people's health, then it behooves you to KNOW the expected outcome based on science.

    What you are doing is religion, not science.

    1. oops meant saturated fat.