Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health

Promoting fruit and vegetable consumption around the world


Fruit and vegetables are important components of a healthy diet, and their sufficient daily consumption could help prevent major diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases and certain cancers. Approximately 16.0 million (1.0%) disability adjusted life years (DALYs, a measure of the potential life lost due to premature mortality and the years of productive life lost due to disability) and 1.7 million (2.8%) of deaths worldwide are attributable to low fruit and vegetable consumption.

Moreover, insufficient intake of fruit and vegetables is estimated to cause around 14% of gastrointestinal cancer deaths, about 11% of ischaemic heart disease deaths and about 9% of stroke deaths globally.

A recently published WHO/FAO report recommends a minimum of 400g of fruit and vegetables per day (excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers) for the prevention of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity, as well as for the prevention and alleviation of several micronutrient deficiencies, especially in less developed countries.

WHO and FAO launched in 2003, a joint Initiative to promote fruit and vegetables for health worldwide.


Joint WHO/FAO Workshop on Fruit and Vegetables for Health
Kobe, Japan, 1-3 September 2004

Making fruit and vegetables available to all: a joint FAO/WHO workshop, held at the WHO Kobe Center for Health Development in Japan, addressed the need for increased fruit and vegetable consumption. The participants discussed issues surrounding fruit and vegetable production, consumption, and the effects on health and disease. The workshop resulted in a framework that proposes ways to promote increased production, availability and access, and adequate consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Fruit and Vegetables for Health is a report of a joint WHO/FAO workshop. It includes a framework as an important tool for governments and other stakeholders to promote fruit and vegetables for health. This framework guides the development of cost-efficient and effective interventions for the promotion of adequate fruit and vegetable production and consumption. To support the implementation of the framework at country level, workshops will be held later this year to develop national action plans.

Background papers presented at the workshop:

The 4th International 5 A Day Symposium
Christchurch, New Zealand, 9-10 August 2004

The 4th International 5 A Day Symposium brought health professionals, nongovernmental organizations, retailers and producer industry representatives together to strengthen initiatives worldwide to increase fruit and vegetable consumption. Key issues included the need for effective programmes to address the international epidemic of overweight and obesity, and strengthening public-private partnerships to promote fruit and vegetables. The symposium was co-sponsored by WHO and the Produce for Better Health Foundation.

WHO Fruit and Vegetable Initiative Expert Meeting
Geneva, Switzerland, 25-27 August 2003

The meeting on fruit and vegetable production and consumption in relation to health promotion and prevention of noncommunicable diseases was held in Geneva from 25 – 27 August 2003. Participants included nutrition scientists, the nutrition advisers of the WHO Regional Offices, experts from FAO, the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the International Food Policy Research Institute, and representatives from existing national programmes promoting fruit and vegetable consumption.

Fruit and Vegetables Promotion Initiative is a report of the above mentioned expert meeting. It gives a definition of "fruit" and "vegetables", provides recommendations on the promotion of fruit and vegetables, including the overall scope, the short- and long-term goals for the proposed initiative, ways to involve industry at global and national levels, guidance to countries wishing to initiate fruit and vegetables promotion programmes.

Fruit and vegetables

  1. Introduction
  2. Meetings
  3. Information sheet