The health benefits of a high Fruit and Vegetable (F&V) intake are beyond doubt. However, actual consumption of this food group is insufficient in large parts of the population, resulting in calls for interventions to increase it.

In this edition of the IFAVA Newsletter, three attempts to do so are presented, focusing on different factors influencing the choice of F&V for a meal.

The way foods are prepared is an important determinant of consumers’ attitudes towards them. Lack of knowledge and experience as to how to cook vegetables can therefore present a barrier to their consumption as reflected in a recent study from Brisbane, Australia. Winkler and Turrell suggest that the knowhow of vegetable preparation appears to be particularly low in groups that have repeatedly shown a low consumption.

As preparation also strongly influences taste and consistency, it is an important factor for consumer acceptance. In their study, Rennie and Wise show a preference for steamed vegetables over cooked ones, suggesting that cooking techniques should be considered in interventions to promote vegetable intake.

However, in everyday life, many people have to rely on community nutrition and catering for their food at least on working days, placing canteens in the focus of intervention approaches. Children are a particular target group for such attempts as their F&V consumption is generally too low. A recent investigation reported by Swanson and Branscum showed that intake in young children can be increased by offering sliced fruit, particularly the varieties difficult to handle. These three findings show the need to consider all factors influencing food choice when promoting F&V consumption.

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