Vegetables: New Zealand Children Are Not Eating Enough
We know that eating a variety of vegetables every day is associated with favorable health across the lifecourse. Internationally, food-based dietary guidelines encourage the consumption of a variety of vegetables and fruit but globally,people are not eating enough vegetables to meet the three-or-more-a-day guideline. Vegetables are good sources of vitamins and minerals, fiber, and many bioactive compounds that promote health and provide energy. They also help reduce hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiencies) and support the healthy growth and development of children. New Zealand is a world leader in the production of diverse nutrients and foods yet poverty and other environmental barriers mean only one in two children eats three-or-more servings of vegetables a day. Price and availability are limiting factors. The proliferation of community, school and home vegetable gardens and vegetable cooperatives may improve access. On a macro level, upstream policies such as a “living wage,” affordable housing, and land-use planning are required. International dietary solutions include an agricultural shift to intensified horticulture with a focus on vegetables. The consumption of more plant-based foods including vegetables would reduce green-house gases, reduce land clearing, and help prevent diet-related disease if consumed daily across the lifecourse.