Just one in five men in the North West get their five a day, placing the region second worst in the country, according to a new study.
Yorkshire and the Humber proved to be the worst area nationwide, with 19% of men eating the five recommended daily portions of fruit and vegetables, in the research carried out by the Health and Social Care Information Centre.
By contrast, almost 30% of women in the North West get their five a day, a figure far closer to the higher-scoring southern regions.
Average daily fruit and veg consumption in adults is highest in London, where most people get four a day, while northern areas eat as little as three.
Debbie Gibson, a nutrition expert from the University of Manchester, outlined the health risks linked to low fruit and vegetable consumption.
She told MM: “Having a low intake of fruit and veg is just one of several things that could lead to poor health or diseases.
“There’s a lot of research out there about risk factors that can impact on heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes.
“Not eating enough fruit and veg is definitely a part of that, but it’s one of a long list of factors along with alcohol consumption, weight, smoking, and others.
“It really depends on whether you are having a few portions a day but not quite meeting the five, or having none at all.”
For both men and women across the country, the proportion having five a day has decreased from peak levels in 2006, with similar patterns shown in children.
Ms Gibson added that the importance of eating enough fruit and vegetables cannot be forgotten.
She said: “It’s not the be all and end all and the answer to preventing all health problems, but it shouldn’t be ignored.
“People are aware of it and realise they should be doing more but it can obviously be difficult when you have busy lives.
“It’s the last thing on your mind sometimes. It’s important that we keep getting the message across and educate people.
“Reinforcing ideas about planning meals and what you think about when you go food shopping is important.”
Image courtesy of Patrick, with thanks.