Champions of the Global Goals: Steven Galvan
Global Goal #3 is about ensuring healthy lives and general wellbeing for all. This goal can be as broad as fighting to end curable epidemics, or striving to reduce birth mortality rates. I support achieving all Goal 3’s targets by 2030, but this article will focus on what each and every one of us can do TODAY to achieve this goal: eat more fruits and veggies.
The data relating to the world’s consumption of fruits and vegetables is alarming. Fruit and vegetable intake is synonymous to tobacco use, high cholesterol, and high body mass index as leading factors in over three quarters of ischaemic heart disease, the leading cause of death worldwide.
Why Eating Fruits and Veggies is So Important
The World Health Organization (WHO) attributes approximately 3 million deaths a year from diseases to inadequate fruit and vegetable intake – a risk factor almost as deadly as tobacco or unsafe sex. Some of the world’s most debilitating nutritional disorders including birth defects, stomach cancers, weakened immune systems, and even death are caused by diets lacking in vitamins and minerals. So with statistics like this, why do we constantly avoid our fruits and vegetables as a population?
According to a State of the Plate study by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), consumption of fruits and vegetables has declined steadily over the last 10 years. This is caused by fewer ingredients used to prepare meals, fewer side dishes, and a steady growth for convenient options like ready-to-eat or frozen dishes.
What We Can Do
As we look at this goal for good health and wellbeing, it’s important to think about actions we can take to change the future consumption of fruits and vegetables. When you consider that the bulk of all fruits and veggies consumed are those purchased from grocery stores, an easy target for improvement is offering more healthy options at fast food and dine-in restaurants. This is where many of us, particularly those of us in urban areas, dine several times a week, or even several times a day.
An additional issue to look at is our influences. We often see advertisements for a new jumbo meal deal from fast food chains, or promotional material for the latest addition to the line at a buffet restaurant. We’re not exactly seeing commercials boasting the nutritional benefits of broccoli, or the various ways you can cook a Brussel sprout, yet this could potentially create better nutritional choices.
As individuals, we can make big improvements in our nutrition from breakfast and snacking. For the average person, breakfast and the snacking throughout the day could attribute to as much as 30-40% of what we eat in a day. If you pack your breakfast with fruit, and snack on fresh vegetables throughout the day, your minimal five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, that so few of us reach, won’t be too far away.
All human beings on this planet are entitled to a healthy and productive life, and Global Goal #3 promotes this. With a statistical detriment equivalent to smoking cigarettes by not eating fruits and vegetables, sometimes we have to just look past the distaste and inconvenience of proper nutrition and weigh the benefits instead.
Learn more about the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, and see how you can support Goal 3 – Good Health and Well-Being.