In this study, researchers from England identified 271 patients, aged 18 to 70 years, from a health centre in a deprived, ethnically mixed inner city area.
The team randomly assigned patients 2 groups. One group received behavioral counseling. This consisted of personalized advice from a practice nurse, and the setting of short and long term goals. The other group received nutrition counseling; education about the importance of increasing consumption of fruit and vegetables.
The patients recorded the number of portions of fruit and vegetables eaten each day.
|Fruit and vegetables consumption increased by 1.5 portions per day in the behavioral group.|
|British Medical Journal|
The researchers also assessed patient's vitamin and potassium levels.
The research team found that after 12 months, the consumption of fruit and vegetables increased by 1.5 portions per day in the behavioral group. They also found that consumption increased by 0.9 portions per day in the nutrition group.
The proportion of patients eating 5 or more portions a day increased by 42% and 27% in the behavioral group and the nutrition group, respectively.
The team did not identify any changes in vitamin C or potassium concentrations.
However, levels of vitamin E and beta-carotene increased in both groups, but the rise in beta-carotene was greater in the behavioral group.
Prof. Andrew Steptoe's team concluded, "These findings show that brief individual counseling is feasible in primary care".
This counseling, "Can elicit sustained increases in consumption of fruit and vegetables in low income adults in the general population".