Symposium aims to expand 5 a day initiative to boost fruit and vegetable consumption
Increasing fruit and vegetable consumption to prevent chronic diseases has profound implications for global food production, says WHO
Geneva, 10 January 2003 - The 3rd Biennial 5 A Day International Symposium will bring health professionals and industry representatives together next week to widen the initiative to boost increased fruit and vegetable consumption. The symposium will be held in Berlin, Germany, from January 14-15.
"Increasing the consumption of fruit and vegetables is a necessary part of the effort to reduce the growing global burden of chronic diseases," says the World Health Organization’s Dr Derek Yach, Executive Director, Noncommunicable Diseases & Mental Health.
Chronic diseases now contribute 60 per cent of deaths and 49 per cent of the global disease burden. And already, 79 per cent of these diseases – which include cardiovascular diseases, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancers and obesity – are occurring in developing countries. This is largely a result of a few major risk factors, including tobacco use and a significant change in diet habits and increased physical inactivity. Such changes are taking place in the context of increasing industrialization, urbanization, economic development and food market globalization.
The World Health Report 2002, attributes at least 2.7 million deaths globally per year to low fruit and vegetable intake. Evidence suggests that there is insufficient consumption of these foods in most countries of the world. As well as helping prevent chronic diseases, adequate fruit and vegetable intake also improves nutritional deficiencies and increases resistance to infectious diseases.
“The increasing burden of chronic diseases is one of the leading health problems of our time, with significant implications for the future health and prosperity of millions of people in both the developed, and increasingly, the developing world,” says WHO Director General, Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland. “The 5 A Day programme is playing an important role in working with the private sector to encourage greater consumption of fruit and vegetables.”
“We need to find ways to extend the 5 A Day concept globally, and especially to tailor it to the conditions, cultures and distribution systems of the developing world,” says Dr Yach, who also leads the WHO’s process for a Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health. “Boosting fruit and vegetable consumption is a simple message with profound implications for global food production and distribution systems. But we must ensure that public health needs remain the overall driver of this, not delivery system bottlenecks."
The 5 A Day Symposium is being presented by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), leaders in the United States’ 5 A Day program, and the German Cancer Society, in conjunction with the WHO. Co-sponsoring the program is the European Commission and the Produce Marketing Association, in addition to the National Cancer Institute, 5 A Day Association – Japan, Welkrebsforchungsfond-DE (World Cancer Research Fund – Germany), and California Walnut Commission. The symposium will be hosted by Fruit Logistica/Messe Berlin and 5 am Tag Germany. The Produce for Better Health Foundation is a non-profit organization, which chairs the National 5 A Day Partnership, consisting of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and industry working in collaboration to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables for improved public health.
The symposium will highlight lessons learned from 5 A Day-type programmes and examine ways to adapt the program appropriately to different national realities in developing countries, in an effort to boost fruit and vegetable consumption.
Leading speakers include Dr Carlos A. Monteiro, Professor of Nutrition at the Department of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of São Paulo, Brazil; Dr Barry Popkin, Professor of Nutrition, School of Public Health, University of North Carolina, U.S.; Marilyn Gentry, President of the World Cancer Research Fund International, London, and WHO’s Dr. Pekka Puska, Director, Dept. of Noncommunicable Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.
Invited retailers include Tesco-UK; Royal Dutch Ahold-Netherlands; REWE-Germany; and Wal-Mart, International.
“As the largest public/private nutrition education program in the United States, 5 A Day has become a model for other nations to establish similar programs in their countries,” says PBH President Dr Elizabeth Pivonka. “Public sector efforts help drive private sector action. Informed leaders recognize that stressing the importance of fruits and vegetables in combating the negative effects of an increasingly complex food environment results in better policies that drive better nutrition among consumers. All that helps drive consumer demand, which has the biggest effect on the food industry’s offerings of fruits and vegetables and ultimately on world health. The 5 A Day International Symposium provides a forum for information exchange among nations about how to generate this level of change.”