Ninety percent of survey respondents report consuming less than the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables for adults.
TORONTO – When it comes to following common nutrition guidelines, like drinking eight cups of liquid a day or eating protein at breakfast, many Canadians report following them regularly. Yet despite an apparent familiarity with dietary rules, most Canadians seem to miss the mark on one of the most important aspects of a healthy and balanced diet.
A recent survey by the Florida Department of Citrus and EKOS Research Associates Inc. found that 90 percent of Canadian adults fall short of meeting Canada’s Food Guide’s recommended servings of seven to 10 fruits and vegetables per day. In fact, nearly 50 percent of respondents indicated they only consume between one and three daily servings of fruits or vegetables, less than half the recommended amount.
Tellingly, this survey, which asked Canadians about their awareness and adherence to specific dietary best practices, found a large number of Canadians are vague in their understanding and practice of dietary recommendations. More than 40 percent of Canadians believe they should only be consuming between four to six servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
“This research suggests that Canadians need to be much more diligent consuming seven to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables every day,” said Gail Rampersaud, registered dietitian. “Good habits go a long way and without proper intake Canadians risk serving themselves short of key vitamins and nutrients that contribute to overall health. Meeting the recommended daily servings can be challenging but there are practical ways to get there,” she said. “For instance, one eight-ounce glass of 100% Florida Orange Juice is easy to drink as a snack or with a meal and equals two servings of fruit.”
Rampersaud also recommends the following to help Canadians reach the daily value of fruits and vegetables:
- Every bit counts, so look for ways to add more fruits and vegetables into your meals throughout the day. This can be as easy as adding fresh or frozen fruit to a breakfast smoothie, or extra vegetables to an omelet, pizza, or casserole.
- Try pureeing steamed or roasted vegetables and use the puree to make soups or stews. This is an easy way to incorporate more vegetables as well as add texture and flavour to dishes.
- Whenever fruits and vegetables are on the menu, consider serving yourself an extra half or full helping to increase your intake. If needed, account for any calorie differences and reduce the amount of other foods you eat accordingly.
To help educate Canadians, Rampersaud has also provided insights on the commonly followed nutrition guidelines revealed by the survey:
- Fifty-five percent of survey respondents report consuming eight cups of liquid a day, a positive finding as this is important for hydration and overall health.
- Forty-two percent of survey respondents report eating protein for breakfast. This helps provide balance and variety at this important meal and some research suggests that protein has a satiating effect that may help people feel full for a longer period of time.
- Forty-one percent of respondents believe that dark chocolate is good for you. While dark chocolate contains cocoa and some studies report that the flavonols in cocoa may have cardio-protective effects, large amounts might need to be consumed to reap the benefits. Since chocolate provides calories and fat, it is best to enjoy a small portion simply for the taste and enjoyment.
- A significant number of respondents also report that they eat small meals throughout the day (38 percent) and avoid eating before bedtime (36 percent), habits that some may find help them to maintain a healthy weight.
- Canadians also revealed a preference for fruit over fruit juice with 34 percent of respondents saying that they do not think fruit juice is a healthy option. While whole fruit should be chosen first when trying to meet fruit intake recommendations, 100 percent fruit juice is a convenient and concentrated source of key nutrients. It is important to consume amounts that are appropriate and fit within daily calorie needs.
The survey was conducted between Dec. 18 and Dec. 23, 2013 using EKOS’ unique online Probit research panel, with a random and national sample of 1,250 Canadians aged 18 and older. A sample of this size provides a margin of error of +/- 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
About the Florida Department of Citrus
The Florida Department of Citrus is an executive agency of Florida government charged with the marketing, research and regulation of the Florida citrus industry. Its activities are funded by a tax paid by growers on each box of citrus that moves through commercial channels. The industry employs nearly 76,000 people, provides an annual economic impact close to $9 billion to the state, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues that help support Florida’s schools, roads and health care services.
About EKOS Research Associates
EKOS Research Associates (EKOS) has been in continuous operation for more than three decades and provides expert services across a spectrum of market research – including client satisfaction, market segmentation and market needs, public opinion research, communications and branding research and stakeholder consultation and engagement. EKOS has a wide-ranging expertise in qualitative and quantitative research as well as ethnographic research, including participant observation, experience mapping and other forms of in-depth interview. EKOS has advised organizations and businesses, from the local to the national, as well as every order of government, on strategic planning and communication. For more information, visit ekos.com.