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Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

Indicator  description

The proportion of ACT children (2-15 years) and young people (18-24 years) who reported as meeting the NHMRC Australian Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetables.

What do we  measure?

Fruit and vegetable consumption of ACT children aged between two and 15 years (parent-reported). Two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables is used as the measurement, as it covers the majority of age groups. Parents report full serves, not half serves.

Self-reported fruit and vegetable consumption of ACT young people aged 18-24 years (two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetable daily as per the Australian Dietary Guidelines).

Why is this important?

Eating fruit and vegetables is essential for a healthy diet.

A diet high in these foods provides protection against a range of chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease, some types of cancer and Type 2 diabetes.12

Policy Context

The ACT Government supports healthy eating in schools, including the consumption of fruit and vegetables, through the ACT Public School Food and Drink Policy. The policy uses the traffic light system to classify food and drink items as Green (always on the canteen menu), Amber (select carefully) and Red (not recommended on the canteen menu). The policy requires that the majority of food and drink items available in school canteens are Green. No Red items should be available. There are good rates of compliance with the policy. The last round of canteen menu assessments found that healthy (Green) food and drinks represented 50.0 per cent of all food and drinks available for sale across public school canteens. The proportion of unhealthy (Red) food and drinks was approximately 2.0 per cent, with further efforts aimed at reducing this proportion to zero.

The Fresh Tastes program is a free ACT Government service that helps schools make healthy food and drinks a bigger part of everyday life for Canberra's kids. Fresh Tastes schools have access to financial grants, discounted services, professional learning, curriculum resources and incentives from partners to achieve their goals. Schools involved in Fresh Tastes are given resources to help educate students about nutrition and health, such as how to pack a healthy lunchbox or how to grow and cook fresh food. Schools are also supported in creating healthier canteen menus and offering discounts for buying fruit and vegetables to families.

Good Habits for Life is a locally-developed behaviour change campaign that targets families with young children and encourages physical activity and healthy eating. The campaign was launched in 2014 and has been supported by three waves of TV, radio and online advertising.

How is the ACT progressing?

Source: ACT General Health Survey 2007-16. Between 2007-08 and 2015-16, the proportion of children aged two to 15 years who consumed at least two serves of fruit and five serves of vegetables has remained fairly stable over time. Latest data (2015-16) shows that the vast majority of children aged 2-15 years (70.0%) are eating adequate serves of fruit per day; however, only one in 20 children (5.4%) in this age group have adequate vegetable intake (Figure 11).

Source: ABS National Health Survey, 2007-15.

* Estimate has a relative standard error greater than 50 per cent and is considered unreliable for general use.

^ Estimate has a relative standard error of 25-50 per cent and should be used with caution. Data from the 2014-15 ABS National Health Survey shows that the proportion of ACT residents aged 18-24 years who eat adequate serves of fruit (40.6%) is comparable with the national proportion (42.8%) (Figure 12); however, vegetable intake is lower (2.3%) when compared with Australian data (6.4%).

Note The proportion of ACT young people (18-24 years) meeting the NHMRC Australian Dietary Guidelines for fruit and vegetables is a new indicator for 2018.

12 NHMRC 2013, The Australian Dietary Guidelines, Commonwealth of Australia.