About 86 percent of adults aged between 18 and 64 do not consume enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis, the Taipei Department of Health said on Monday.
A national health and nutrition survey conducted by the Health Promotion Administration (HPA) from 2013 to 2016 showed that the obesity rate among adults was 44.8 percent, while 86 percent of respondents did not eat enough fruits and vegetables per day, the department said.
The HPA’s Dietary Guidelines of Taiwan recommends that adults eat two servings of fruit and three servings of vegetables every day.
One serving of fruit is equivalent to one fresh fruit about the size of a fist, while one serving of vegetables is equivalent to a bowl of uncooked leafy greens, or about 100g, it says.
The survey also showed that 42 percent of people aged 65 or over did not consume enough calories per day, with the malnutrition rates totaling 15.1 percent in men and 21.2 percent in women, including seriously insufficient intake of dairy products (81.6 percent), calcium (76.3 percent) and fruit (72.9 percent).
An imbalanced diet consists of either an inadequate or excessive intake of certain types of foods, Xinyi District (信義) Health Center director Chou Chen-cheng (周真貞) said.
A WHO report said that insufficient fruit and vegetable intake is associated with 14 percent of the world’s gastrointestinal cancer deaths, 11 percent of cardiovascular disease deaths and 9 percent of deaths from stroke, Chou said.
“Fruits and vegetables contain different nutrients and cannot be replaced by each other,” she said, adding that vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber, so they counteract free-radical damage, improve digestive health and lower cholesterol.
As many people spend too much time looking at screens, the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables — such as vitamin C, vitamin E, carotenoid and lutein — can help maintain eye function and protect against sun damage, as well as prevent macular degeneration and cataracts, said Vivian Lee (李芷薇), a nutritionist at National Taipei University.
For people who are too busy, she suggested boiling vegetables such as baby corn, snap beans, carrots or broccoli in advance, cutting them into small pieces and keeping them in the refrigerator to eat throughout the day.
In related news, a random inspection on pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables sold in Taipei’s wholesale market conducted by the department in January showed that six among the 40 examined items, or 15 percent, were found to have pesticide residue levels exceeding the maximum permitted level.
The department suggested that people buy fresh fruit in their natural harvesting season, thoroughly wash fruits and vegetables with clean water, especially at the roots and stem, and soak them in water for 10 to 20 minutes before rinsing them again.
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