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Publication | 16 April 2021

Fruits and vegetables for healthy diets: Priorities for food system research and action

Global Food and Nutrition Security

Fruits and vegetables are vital for healthy diets, with broad consensus that a diverse diet containing a range of plant foods (and their associated nutrients, phytonutrients and fibre) is needed for health and wellbeing. Despite this clear message, intake of fruits and vegetables remains low for a majority of the global population, in high and low-income countries.

The paper summarises evidence underpinning food system actions to make fruits and vegetables more available, accessible and desirable through push (production and supply), pull (demand and activism) and policy (legislation and governance) mechanisms, with action options at macro (global and national), meso (institutional, city and community) and micro (household and individual) levels.

The paper analyses that fruit and vegetable production needs to increase particularly in regions with low consumption, together with accompanying measures to prevent losses. It also analyses that there is only a weak association between incomes and fruit and vegetable consumption and that the main challenge is to enhance consumer choice of and preference for these foods. Based on these analyses, a list of possible actions is defined.