Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption


Numerous WHO reports and strategies have recommended increasing population-level fruit and vegetable consumption to promote health, including the 2002 world health report, the 2003 report on the expert consultation on diet, nutrition and the prevention of chronic diseases (produced jointly with FAO) and the 2004 WHO global strategy on diet, physical activity and health.

The WHO/FAO report recommends 400g edible fruit and vegetables per day as a population-wide intake goal for the prevention of NCDs, as well as for the prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies. This translates to roughly 5 portions per day. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava and other starchy roots are not classified as fruits or vegetables.

Policy responses

WHO/Europe held the WHO European Ministerial Conference on Nutrition and Noncommunicable Diseases in the Context of Health 2020 in Vienna, 2013. Member States unanimously adopted the Vienna Declaration, which provides political guidance to strengthen action in the WHO European Region. This resulted in the development and adoption of a new WHO European Food and Nutrition Action Plan 2015–2020, which addresses the main public health challenges in the area of nutrition, including insufficient fruit and vegetable consumption.

 Member States have recognize that:

 the level of fruit and vegetable consumption in countries in the European Region is still poor;

• insufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables can contribute to energy imbalance and difficulty maintaining a healthy body weight;

• a package of essential preventive action should be promoted to increase fruit and vegetable consumption such as support for the production and distribution of unprocessed fruits and vegetables;  school food policies and other procurement policies in public institutions that promote consumption; and targeted subsidies to increase access for vulnerable groups.

The majority of European Union (EU) Member States participate in the EU School Fruit Scheme or have their own national schemes in place to provide free or subsidised fruit and vegetables to children. WHO and Member States consider the European Union School Fruit Scheme and other similar national schemes as examples of a broad partnership between the education, health and agriculture sectors for improving the availability and affordability of fruits and vegetables. WHO recommends its extension to more schools and encourage an increase in the amount or frequency of vegetables and fruits provided.