Press Release

Minister Martin launches National Healthy Eating Week

Vegetables – because Fast Food Comes Naturally

Retail Vegetable Sales €311M – up 6% on 2002

The Health Promotion Unit of the Department of Health and Children and Bord Glas announced today (Thursday 4th September) the second phase of their joint healthy eating promotional campaign, focusing on the benefits of Vegetables.

The promotional theme for this campaign “Vegetables – because Fast Food Comes Naturally” highlights the convenience, versatility and health benefits of vegetables and urges everyone, particularly younger age groups, to eat four or more portions of vegetables and/or fruit every day.

Research findings released by HPU of the Department of Health and Children and Bord Glas show that 99% of Irish households spend on average €243 on vegetables per annum with most households spending €2.61 on vegetables per shopping trip. The main contributors to total vegetable retail sales are carrots at€45 million, mushrooms at €27 million, onions at €26 million and broccoli at €20 million.

The joint Health Promotion Unit / Bord Glas “Vegetables -because Fast Food Comes Naturally” promotion takes place nationally from the 7th September to the 13th September 2003, incorporating a number of Health Board initiatives and a range of activities with local media, schools, retailers, hospitals and work places.

According to the recent SLÁN report (The 2003 National Health & Lifestyle Survey), not enough Irish children are consuming the recommended four or more portions of vegetables and/or fruit per day, which is essential for long term health benefits.

Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, T.D., commented: “While the overall general consumption of vegetables and fruit has improved since 1998, younger people are still not consuming enough portions to meet the daily recommended guidelines- four or more portions per day.

Numerous health benefits can be derived from eating vegetables with four or more portions of fruit and or vegetables assisting in the prevention of heart disease and some cancers. Eating four or more portions of fruit and vegetables each day in preference to high calorie, high fat snack foods can also help achieve and maintain a healthy weight. For this campaign I am encouraging everyone, especially young people, to eat at least one extra portion of vegetables, including salad vegetables, each day. Healthy eating is a lifestyle choice and one which should be considered by all who care about good health.”

MRBI research findings show young people consume the least amount of vegetables. This is partly due to the fact that young people eat a high portion of fast food, lead busier lifestyles and eat ´on the go´.

According to Michael Maloney, Chief Executive, Bord Glas, “While Bord Glas is encouraged by the increased consumption of vegetables, we are also conscious of research results that show consumption by young people and children to be below that of adults. This is an issue of public concern and one that we hope our joint campaign with the HPU will help to address. Our research also indicates that only 5% of people associate vegetables with being a quick daytime snack. Therefore, the aim of the “Fast Food Comes Naturally” campaign is to convey to younger consumers in particular that vegetables are a versatile and delicious ´fast food´ alternative which can be eaten as a snack or as part of a main meal”.

The Health Promotion Unit / Bord Glas joint promotion is a public awareness campaign to encourage people to look at their eating behaviour and introduce an extra portion of vegetables every day – with such a vast selection of Irish vegetables available healthy eating has never been easier.