Australia’s largest ever fruit and vegetable survey has revealed that four out of five Australian adults aren’t eating enough fruit and vegetables.

The Fruit, Vegetables and Diet Score Report, produced by the CSIRO and commissioned by Horticulture Innovation Australia, found only 24 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men are eating the two fruits and five vegetables a day required to meet the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

The report was compiled over an 18 month period, and surveyed 145,975 participants nationwide, making it the largest report of its kind ever conducted in this country.

Professor Manny Noakes, CSIRO Research Director and co-author of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, says the report suggests most Australians are not as healthy as they think.

“Many Aussies believe themselves to be healthy, yet this report shows the majority of those surveyed are not getting all the beneficial nutrients from fruit and vegetables needed for a healthy, balanced diet,” she says.

Professor Noakes suggests that a focus on variety could help people boost their consumption of fruit and veg.

“One simple way to boost your intake is to eat three different types of vegetables with your main evening meal,” she says.

“Australian growers are adapting to the consumer’s need for convenience by bringing high-quality fresh produce from the farm to the table in ready-to-cook and eat packaging, making it easier for time-poor adults to add more nutritious fruit and vegetables into their diets.”

When broken down by occupation, construction workers and those in the science and programming sector recorded the lowest consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Retirees and health industry workers has the best fruit and vegetable eating habits.

Unsurprisingly, the report also found that adults who eat more fruit and vegetables also have the highest CSIRO Healthy Diet Scores.

“Increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables we eat is one of the simplest ways Australians can improve their health and wellbeing today as well as combat the growing rates of obesity and lifestyle diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and a third of all cancers,” Professor Noakes says.

“Diets high in fruit and vegetables have been shown to improve psychological and physical markers of wellbeing. In particular, phytochemicals from fruit and vegetables reduce systemic inflammation which can lead to chronic disease.”

You can test how your own fruit and vegetable consumption stacks up by taking the free CSIRO Healthy Diet Score at csirodietscore.com.