The government’s ‘5-a-day’ campaign for healthy eating was launched in March 2003

The 5-a-day campaign was launched by the government to encourage people to increase their consumption of fruit and vegetables to at least five portions. Health benefits such as reducing the risk of cardiac diseases, cancers and diabetes were clearly linked to the campaign.

A raft of initial research found that there was a rise in the amount of fruit and vegetables people were consuming and attributing this development to the 5-a-day campaign (World Cancer Research Fund). However, since its launch, the campaign has faced criticisms, in particular in relation to claims about health benefits. In 2010, a report found the link between eating five portions of fruit and vegetables a day had a weak link with reductions in risks of cancer (The Guardian, 2010).

Furthermore, in 2014, University College London reported findings that suggested that seven portions of fruit and vegetable would actually cut the risk of cancer (BBC News). However, while a larger subsequent study also found that eating more fruit and vegetables was linked with a lower risk of dying from any cause, with the average risk of death falling by about 5% for every extra serving of fruit and vegetables, this trend only continued up to five servings a day, with no additional benefit from eating more than this.


Prime Minister: Tony Blair

Health Minister: Alan Milburn