The evidence behind five-a-day

Introduction

I shared last week that my key issue with five-a-day is that it is not evidence based. For something to be evidence based, the evidence must come first. This critical fact seems to be beyond the grasp of public health officials. I promised to share the exchange I had with Public Health England, back in 2013, when I challenged them on their five-a-day advice. It forms the main part of this week’s note.

Before we get to that, I’ll share some other posts that I’ve done on five-a-day. The first thing I wrote on five-a-day was in Chapter 13 of my 2009 book The Obesity Epidemic: What caused it? How can we stop it? I posted the five-a-day section from Chapter 13 on my website in 2012 (Ref 1). That post went through the history of five-a-day; what it had become in different countries; how fruit and vegetables measure up nutritionally and the evidence for the slogan. This review ended by asking the question – even if five-a-day wasn’t evidence based, surely it’s still a good thing to do? In the context of obesity, I concluded that it is not for five key reasons:

 

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