Five-a-day fruit and vegetable advice 'unrealistic', says new GPs head

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When it comes to fruit and vegetables, two-a-day, rather than five, might be more realistic advice to give families, says one of the UK’s leading doctors.

The new chair of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, says lots of people may struggle to afford the recommended amount of daily portions.

Public Health England insists five-a-day is affordable and achievable.

Dr Stokes-Lampard wants doctors to take a pragmatic approach and offer patients tailored goals.

She also rejects the idea that smokers should always be told to give up.

Dr Stokes-Lampard claims many children are being brought up with a culture of not having any fresh fruit and vegetables at all.

Media captionDr Helen Stokes-Lampard: “Some people may need to build up to the five portions a day”

And she told BBC Breakfast News: “In the consultation with patients it’s vital that GPs sometimes need to tailor the advice to the family in front of them. That may be starting with one or two portions a day and building up to the five portions a day.”

However, she added: “The five-a-day initiative is fantastic and gets my and the profession’s 100% support. It is what we should aspire to and in fact, probably, people should be eating more than five portions a day ideally.”

Are you getting five-a-day?

What counts?

On smoking, Dr Stokes-Lampard said: “The guidance that smoking should be completely given up is clear and unequivocal.

“However, if I have a patient in front of me who has smoked 40 a day forever, who really likes smoking and has no desire to give up whatsoever, then what we might be trying to achieve between us is saying ‘what about cutting down’.

“Patients are individuals. You can’t treat everyone the same. If you do, patients can zone out and just completely disregard any advice. And nobody gains from that.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, of Public Health England, said: “Five fruit and veg a day is an affordable and achievable target and the cornerstone of a healthy balanced diet.”


Five-a-day

  • Almost all fruit and vegetables count towards your five-a-day
  • Fruit and vegetables do not have to be fresh, frozen is good too
  • A portion for an adult is 80g
  • Beans and pulses only count as one portion, no matter how much you eat
  • Potatoes, yams and cassava do not count
  • Sweet potatoes, parsnips, swedes and turnips do count



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