New GP leader calls for rethink of ‘expensive’ five-a-day goal

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard says fruit and veg guidance is unaffordable for many families

The new leader of Britain’s 50,000 family doctors says the “five-a-day” target for fruit and vegetable consumption should be revised because it is unaffordable for many Britons.

In her first interview since becoming the chair of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard told the Observer: “For people that have got a low income five-a-day is really, really hard. It’s expensive to have five-a-day. I get my five-a-day, no problem, but for many people they can’t afford that five-a-day.” Fruit and vegetables should be reduced in price to encourage greater uptake, she said.

In general, consumption targets that people find unachievable or unrealistic should be rethought because they demoralise those who do not achieve them, Stokes-Lampard said.

Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, the new Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, says alcohol guidelines also need to be adapted.
Dr Helen Stokes-Lampard, the new Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, says alcohol guidelines also need to be adapted. Photograph: Andy Hall/The Observer

She also doubted the wisdom of always trying to persuade smokers to give up. “Many people love to smoke still. Any reduction they can make is a good thing.Encourage them to reduce. If you only say to them ‘the only positive outcome is quitting’, then you’re going to turn them off, you’re not going to be able to have an ongoing conversation.”

Stokes-Lampard speculated that the alcohol guidelines introduced in January, which state that men should drink the same maximum 14 units a week that women have been advised to stick to for years, risked being seen as too strict. “It’s realistic, because a lot of people don’t drink that much. But, for those who do, that seems like a hard task to achieve,” she said.


Denis Campbell Health policy editor

The GuardianTramp

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