Dubai does not eat enough fruits, vegetables

More than half of Dubai residents are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables to keep themselves healthy, it was announced by Dubai Health Authority (DHA) yesterday.

According to the Dubai Household Health Survey (DHHS), a survey that was jointly carried out by DHA and the Dubai Statistics Centre among 5,000 households in 2009, 59 per cent of the population in the emirate does not consume a sufficient quantity of fruit and vegetables.

Sufficient fruit and vegetables consumption is defined by the World Health Organisation as consuming at least 400g of fruit and vegetables every day, excluding potatoes and other starchy tubers.

Overall, women were found to be eating more fruits and vegetables than man.

However, it is the Arab man who turns out to be the biggest fruit eater; 63.9 per cent were found to consume sufficient fruits and vegetables, compared to a male average of 39.4 per cent.

Among women, Indian women take the lead; 54.3 per cent of Indian women eat sufficient fruit and vegetables, more than national, European or Asian women.

UAE nationals score a little above average as a mixed gender category; 53.8 per cent were found to eat sufficient fruit and vegetables.

According to the results of the survey consumption of sufficient fruit and vegetables increases with age and income-level; the older and wealthier residents of Dubai consume more fruits and vegetables than the young and low-income residents.

For UAE nationals, the consumption also increases with educational levels; the more educated the person, the more likely he is to consume sufficient fruit and vegetables.

A lack of sufficient fruits and vegetables consumption can form a risk factor for major noncommunicable diseases (NCD) such as cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), diabetes, obesity, cancers and respiratory diseases, which account for the majority of deaths worldwide.

"A healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables is very important, especially for our population, given the current prevalence of lifestyle diseases,” says Laila Al Jassmi, CEO of Health Policy and Strategy Sector at DHA.

"The results provide us details which will help us tailor-make our awareness initiatives to reach out to various sections of society. The study establishes a direct link between education and consumption of fruits and vegetables, and thus points out the need to raise overall awareness in the society through awareness initiatives."

Dr. Amnah Matar Al-Marashdah, Senior Research Specialist at the DHA Health Policy and Strategy Sector said that the survey had asked respondents as to how many servings of fruits and vegetables they eat on a typical day.

The data obtained was then used to construct an indicator of sufficient fruit and vegetable consumption for reducing health risks – based on WHO and FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) consultation.  Results were validated using multivariate regression analysis and other tests of statistical significance.

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