Can't cook, too lazy: Why young men are not eating enough fruit and veg

Wednesday 14th August 2019 10:30 BST

Most are struggling to eat even three of their recommended five portions, even though those with a positive attitude to healthy food have been found to enjoy a better diet and more positive outlook on life.

The findings by a team at the University of East Anglia, published in the journal Nutrients, focused on 34 British men aged between 18 and 24, all of a normal weight and living across urban and rural areas.

Each kept a food diary for four days and were split into groups of high consumers, who regularly ate more than four of their five a day, and low consumers, who managed less than three.

While some may chuckle at a lack of kitchen acumen being one of the primary reasons behind an absence of fruit and vegetables from their diet, lead researcher Dr Stephanie Howard Wilsher it was a concerning trend.

She said: "In England about half of men eat less than three portions of fruit and veg a day, and young men aged 18-24 eat the least.

"This is really worrying because men are more likely than women to suffer health problems later in life such as coronary heart disease."

Participants who were eating fewer apples and pears and not enough broccoli were "either could or would not cook", instead opting for "convenience foods" that were cheaper and less time-consuming.

Some also said they did not like the taste of fruit and vegetables generally, or did not find them filling.

Dr Howard Wilsher said those at the lower end of the scale were being more driven by social influences, including a desire to gain muscle and build their physique.

They were said to think little about their future health and had a "live for today attitude", with a mistrust of diet and health promotions that were not designed around their interests - such as sex, exercise and sports.

Dr Howard Wilsher said: "Policy makers need to adopt different approaches to engage young men with health messages and improve their dietary choices."

She added: "We found that the young men with the best diets really believed in their ability to afford, shop for, prepare and cook fruit and vegetables.

"These high consumers felt they had good control of their diet and health, and had positive attitudes towards healthy food. They found that cooking and eating healthy food gave them enjoyment, satisfaction and better mood."

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