HC Deb 27 February 2003 vol 400 cc695-6W
Dr. Gibson

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress the Government is making in increasing the average daily consumption of fruit and vegetables from three to five portions a day. [87323]

Ms Blears

National trends in fruit and vegetable consumption, since the beginning of the Five-a-Day programme in 2001, cannot as yet be fully ascertained, due to the considerable time it takes to undertake dietary surveys and their analyses. However, monitoring systems are in place. At a national level, trends in consumption will be assessed through the annual Health Survey for England, through which data on fruit and vegetables was collected for the first time in 2001.

At a local level, evaluation of five local Five-a-Day pilot initiatives—one-year interventions targeting one million people between 2000 and 2001—demonstrated that they have produced important changes in people's knowledge, access and intake of fruit and vegetables. Overall, the intervention was found to have had a positive effect in people with the lowest intakes. Those who ate less than five a day at baseline increased their intakes by one portion over the course of the study. Sixty six new local five-a-day initiatives, funded by the New Opportunities Fund, will begin this year. A tool has been developed to ensure effective evaluation of the local Five-a-Day initiatives.

Following successful piloting, the National School Fruit Scheme is now being extended throughout England on a region by region basis. The Scheme currently reaches 425,000 children in 3,500 schools across the whole of the West Midlands and London. A tool for assessing the impact of the National School Fruit Scheme on children's diets is currently being developed.