Taking a closer look at fruit & vegetable intake in Benin and Sri Lanka  

Share this to :

A balanced diet rich in fruit and vegetables is key to preventing malnutrition and diseases worldwide. Yet, globally, fruit and vegetable intake remain far below recommended levels. To effectively bridge this gap, it is important to gather country-specific evidence that can inform the development of targeted interventions. 

The CGIAR Research Initiative on Fruit and Vegetables for Sustainable Healthy Diets (FRESH) is working to understand dietary intake patterns across four focal countries (Benin, Tanzania, the Philippines and Sri Lanka). Recent studies examined dietary intake among young children in Benin and adults in Sri Lanka.  

Addressing nutritional gaps in Benin 

The first two years of a child’s life are crucial for growth and development. In rural Benin, FRESH focused on the diets of young children (6-23 months). Despite diversity in the types of foods consumed, diets lacked several essential micronutrients. This could be explained in part by low F&V intake. The average daily F&V intake among young children was estimated to be about 50 grams, falling short of recommendations 

Looking closer at micronutrient intake, FRESH researchers pinpointed gaps. Most vegetables were under-consumed, and most fruits (except for bananas) were largely missing from the diet. Identifying priority F&V in terms of contribution to micronutrient intake can help improve the diets of young children in Benin​​. This study provides a starting point for understanding dietary patterns, including F&V intake in this region, helping FRESH identify potential entry points for increasing F&V intake.  

Diversifying Sri Lankan diets 

In Sri Lanka, FRESH investigated dietary patterns and micronutrient intake in adults. The findings were equally concerning: average F&V intake was significantly below the national and global recommendations. Inadequate micronutrient intake levels were also reported, with most nutrients reported, falling below 20% of the recommended intake.  

While increasing F&V intake is an important step toward sustainably addressing micronutrient gaps in Sri Lanka, diversifying diets with nutrient-dense options like animal-sourced foods (ASF) and fortified foods is also likely necessary given the shortfalls in iron, zinc, vitamin B12 and calcium intake, for example. Additional research is needed to better understand the barriers to F&V consumption among Sri Lankan adults. 

Global impacts 

Though focused on particular regions, FRESH’s analyses in Benin and Sri Lanka hold global significance. This research is part of a broader effort to improve diets and associated nutrition and health outcomes, while mitigating environmental impacts and empowering women and youth​. The collaborative efforts of FRESH researchers and their partners demonstrate a commitment to tackling diet and nutritional challenges holistically. 

Learn more about these studies by downloading the research briefs below.

 

 

The FRESH Initiative is being implemented by CGIAR researchers from IFPRI, CIMMYT, the Alliance of Bioversity International and CIAT, IWMI, and CIP in close partnership with the World Vegetable Center, Applied Horticultural Research, the University of Sydney, the Institute of Development Studies, Wageningen University & Research, the University of California, Davis, Borlaug Institute of South Asia, Sokoine University of Agriculture, Wayamba University of Sri Lanka and the Philippines Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute, along with other partners.  

We would like to thank all funders who support this research through their contributions to the CGIAR Trust Fund: www.cgiar.org/funders. 

Cover image: Woman and her child at a market in Benin. Photo by IFPRI/ M. Cooperman. 

Share this to :