Five a day fruit plate

Matching diets to just half of the government’s Eatwell Plate and 5 a day fruit and veg goals would reduce food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 30%, according to a new report.

Academics from the SHEFS Sustainable & Healthy Food Systems group, which is co-ordinated by the Food Foundation, also found if people ate on average five tablespoon-sized portions of fruit and vegetables a day, average healthy life expectancy would be extended by up to eight months.

The authors concluded boosting fruit and vegetable production in Britain would insulate against price shocks caused by climate disasters in more vulnerable countries which produce tropical fruits and vegetables, and decrease over-consumption of meat, providing both health and environmental benefits.

The report, which will be published shortly. calls on the government to do more across departments to steer diets towards healthier and more sustainable food.

“Replacing even a small proportion of meat and sugary confectionery with more fruit and vegetables would also reduce calorie intake, providing further overall health gain,” it concluded.

“Introduction of real collaboration between the 16 government departments responsible for shaping the nation’s food policy would reap dividends and offer the chance of at last achieving some of these vital targets.”

“Much of the solution lies with government introducing a more coherent and forward-thinking food policy,” said Isabel Hughes, policy engagement manager at the Food Foundation.

“Research from the SHEFS consortium has demonstrated clearly that changing what we eat could improve both our health and the health of the planet, but until now policy-making on food has failed to grasp this opportunity for change.”