Are we a nation of salad dodgers?

According to new research, Britons are lagging woefully behind when it comes to tucking into fruit and vegetables.

New statistics from Euromonitor International have revealed that British adults consume less than half of the world average amount of fresh fruit and veg. What’s more, our consumption has dropped significantly in the last five years.

In 2015, the world average was 63.4kg of fruit and 126.1kg of vegetables per person per year. In Britain, our consumption of fruit had fallen from 42.4kg per person per year in 2010 to 40.8kg in 2015. The amount of vegetables each person consumed dropped from 60.7kg in 2010 to 58kg.

Cake culture

Only last week, we highlighted the news that our office culture of cakes, sweets and biscuits was ruining our teeth and our waistlines. The workplace is now considered to be the place where people consume most of their sugar intake. Professor Nigel Hunt from the Royal College of Surgeons said: “Managers want to reward staff for their efforts, colleagues want to celebrate special occasions and workers want to bring a gift back from their holidays. Cake culture poses difficulties for those who are trying their hardest to lose weight or become healthier. We need a change in culture.”

Changing our habits

Just 30% of British adults currently eat the recommended five portions of fruit and veg each day. At this year’s London Produce Show, Dutch academics shared their plan for increasing consumption in Holland – making fruit and veg “convenient, attractive and normal”.

Herman Peppelenbos, from Wageningen University’s Food and Biobased Research Institute, was behind a research project to help people form new eating habits.  He said: “Most people only eat [vegetables] at dinner. So we thought – what can we do to reach consumers? People want to eat healthily, they know fruits and vegetables are ok but someone they don’t manage to do it – so let’s help them.”

The research team swapped traditional snacks such as biscuits for servings of fresh fruit and veg in nurseries, secondary schools and workplaces. The new-style snacks were very well received by each audience, proving that there is an appetite for healthy options.

And it’s not all bad news. Trade newspaper The Grocer predicts that our fruit and vegetable consumption rates will increase over the next five years as more people take an interest in their health and turn to vegetarianism for environmental reasons.

For now, next time it’s your turn to buy the office treats, try swapping the biscuits for bananas and watch your colleagues’ reactions. You might be pleasantly surprised.