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.