Young Indians are falling considerably short of the daily intake of fruits and vegetables as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO), a significant research has revealed.
People below the age of 35 are consuming only 3.3 servings while the WHO recommends five servings of fruits of vegetables in a day, revealed the Indian Council for Research on International Economic Relations (ICRIER) survey.
“It was found that young Indians are more prone towards consuming fast food, which is easily available and, according to them, are tastier than home cooked food,” said Arpita Mukherjee, a professor at ICRIER, New Delhi.
“The youngsters prefer processed and packaged foods which are faster to prepare and easily available. The young students and those working blamed staying away from home, busy schedule and work pressure the reasons for the diet shortfall,” she said in a statement.
The primary survey covered 1,001 respondents from Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Hyderabad and Delhi-NCR.
The WHO panel on diet, nutrition and prevention of chronic diseases recommends a daily intake of at least 400 grams (or five daily servings with an average serving size of 80 gm) of fruits and vegetables.
It excluded potatoes, cassava and other starchy tubers to prevent diet-related chronic diseases and micro-nutrient deficiencies.
“While the average for all Indian upper and middle class consumers is 3.5 daily servings – which implies that they are falling short of the WHO recommendations, for those below the age of 35, it is further lower at 3.3 servings,” the survey findings noted.
“The youngsters argue that in India, there are limited options for cut and packed fruits and processed vegetables – which are ready to eat,” Mukherjee added.
Apart from juices and certain processed vegetables like peas, there are hardly any processing fruits like lichee or different types of berries.
According to Souvik Dutta, assistant professor at IIM Bangalore, young Indians are aware that there are issues related to the presence of pesticides in fruits and vegetables which stops them from eating those raw.
Some survey respondents also pointed out that they are aware that daily intake of the five servings of fruits and vegetables reduced the risk of stroke and other diseases.
“They are also aware that fresh fruits and vegetables are better than processed food,” Dutta noted.
Conducted in association with the independent Spectrum Research Group and Amway Opportunity Foundation, the survey aimed to understand the “actual” fruits and vegetables consumption patterns in India and compare this to the WHO “recommended” quantity for an adult.