Free fruit-and-veg and fewer kilos

Sep 22 2017

Erin Clarke

Participants in a new HMRI nutrition and physical activity study at the University of Newcastle will gain a week’s worth of fruit and vegetables for free, along with $100 towards their grocery bill at the end of the 10-week trial, while potentially losing weight.

Researchers from the Priority Research Centre for Physical Activity and Nutrition are examining exactly how much a diet rich in fruit-and-veg contributes to weight loss and how it relates to protecting the body from inflammation after high-intensity physical activity.

“As a dietitian I often advise people to eat more fruit and veg – we now want to study the science behind that and look at how healthy eating helps protect the body from inflammation,” researcher Erin Clarke says.

“Knowing how much fruit and vegetables you should aim for, along with cost, appear to be deterrents for people eating more fruit and vegetables themselves. So the idea of supplying a box is to show how much people should be eating per week – hopefully it will make it easier to implement when grocery shopping and help minimise wastage.”

Included in the box are bananas, oranges, frozen berries, fresh and tinned tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumber and frozen peas and corn.

“We tried to provide a good variety and they’re all in the right portion sizes,” Ms Clarke adds. “We also give participants some healthy recipes and links to other sources. Even if you don’t cook regularly, they are easy to follow – we would really encourage men, in particular, to take part as we've already had quite a few women enrol for the study.”

As part of the study, participants complete the Australian Eating Survey and will get personalised dietary advice and support with setting goals for heathy eating and weight loss. Researchers are aiming to help people lose between half- to one-kilogram per week, or up to 10 kilograms over the course of the study.

With the additional cost of eating more fruit and veg estimated to be $10 a week on average, taking into account fewer ‘junk’ foods like snacks, participants will be reimbursed $100 at the study’s conclusion.

The team is recruiting males and females aged 18-45 years, with a Body Mass Index of 25-35 (overweight to obese) and no health issues that would increase the risk of undertaking high-intensity exercise.

Among five visits to the UON Callaghan campus, there will two exercise sessions involving a VO2 Max test of aerobic capacity on a treadmill, lasting around 10 minutes, plus interval tests of around 20-minute duration on subsequent visits.

For details contact Erin Clarke on (02) 4985 4316 or

* Erin Clarke researches in conjunction with the HMRI Cardiovascular Research Program. HMRI partners with the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.