Get your free fruit-and-veggies

Feb 26 2018

Glenn Spotts and Erin Clarke

Last-minute recruitment opportunities are available for a University of Newcastle (UON) nutrition trial offering free fruit-n-veggies, $100 grocery reimbursement and personal dietary advice.

Dietitian Erin Clarke, from HMRI’s Cardiovascular Research Program, is examining whether a diet comprising recommended levels of fruit and vegetables can contribute to weight loss and protect the body from inflammation after high-intensity physical activity.

Bananas, oranges, berries, tomatoes, pumpkin, carrots, sweet potatoes, lettuce, zucchini, cucumber, peas and corn are all included in a generous take-home box at the start of the study.

Participants also complete the Australian Eating Survey and receive support with setting goals for heathy eating and weight loss. The aim is to help people shed up to one-kilogram per week, or around 10 kilograms over the course of the study.

Glen Spotts, a 41-year-old IT programmer who joined the trial last year, is on track to reach his target weight of 83 kilograms after originally weighing in at 95. While his work is sedentary and mentally tiring, he now claims to be feeling more energised.

“I guess you fall into certain habits over time,” he said. “I haven’t avoided fruit and vegetables but I was gaining weight as I got older.

“After talking with Erin I began paying more attention to portion sizes when buying other groceries, and I came up with a simple rule to live by ... ‘if it’s not fruit-and-veg then halve it; if it is, then double it’,” Glen added.

Glen has substituted his former processed carbohydrate-rich lunch with a fruit salad and yoghurt, while cauliflower rice is occassionally replacing grain rice as another source of veggies.

“It can be challenging to eat five serves a day without going vegetarian, but I’m now thinking of things like a vegetable stirfry or vegetable korma curry and feeling really good.”

Erin Clarke says all the participants to date have improved their waist circumference and body-fat percentage just by moderating their diet.

“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,” she said. “We just need 14 more people for the trial, including 12 males.”

It’s a 10-week study with two baseline and two follow-up sessions and one mid-way follow-up session. Participants have to be aged 18-45 years with a Body Mass Index of 25-35 (overweight to obese) and no health issues that would prevent undertaking high-intensity exercise.

For details contact Erin Clarke on 4985 4316 or

* HMRI partners with the University of Newcastle, Hunter New England Health and the community.