Can Vanity Motivate Fruit & Vegetable Consumption?

by Sandy Todd Webster on May 07, 2012


When all else fails, appealing to a person’s sense of vanity can often be the most powerful motivator.

We have all heard the five-a-day consumption rule on fruits and vegetables ad nauseam, but for some, the message just hasn’t penetrated. Perhaps, instead of extolling the health benefits of these foods, we should tell people what researchers at the University of St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland, recently discovered: eating approximately 3-3.5 portions of fruits and veggies per day can not only make you healthier--it can actually make Caucasians look better by giving skin tone a carotenoid boost in a matter of weeks.

Call it nature’s foundation makeup, but the orange-red pigments found in fruits and vegetables can visibly change your skin tone, according to a study published in the February 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health (102 [2], 207-11).

“Diet and skin-color were recorded at baseline and after 3 and 6 weeks, in a group of 35 individuals who were without makeup, self-tanning agents and/or recent intensive UV exposure,” stated the study abstract. “Six-week changes in fruit and vegetable consumption were significantly correlated with changes in skin redness and yellowness over this period, and diet-linked skin reflectance changes were significantly associated with the spectral absorption of carotenoids and not melanin. We also used psychophysical methods to investigate the minimum color change required to confer perceptibly healthier and more attractive skin-coloration. Modest dietary changes are required to enhance apparent health (2.91 portions per day) and attractiveness (3.30 portions).”

The authors, led by Ross D. Whitehead, RD, concluded that “diet-linked skin-color

changes occurred over a relatively short time period and were attainable through relatively modest dietary changes; these conditions suggest potential utility as a dietary intervention tool.” They feel that further research is required to verify whether wide-scale public health benefits could be reaped, and to determine whether the effects extend to non-Caucasians and to populations with a greater range in their initial diet.

Want more from Sandy Todd Webster?

IDEA Food and Nutrition Tips, Volume 1, Issue 3

Find the Perfect Job

More jobs, more applicants and more visits than any other fitness industry job board.

© 2012 by IDEA Health & Fitness Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction without permission is strictly prohibited.

About the Author

Sandy Todd Webster

Sandy Todd Webster IDEA Author/Presenter

Sandy Todd Webster is Editor in Chief of IDEA's publications, including the award-winning IDEA FITNESS JOURNAL and IDEA FOOD & NUTRITION TIPS, the industry's leading resources for fitness, wellness and nutrition professionals worldwide. Sandy joined IDEA in 2001 as executive editor of IDEA PERSONAL TRAINER and IDEA FITNESS MANAGER magazines and was promoted to lead the editorial team in 2003. More than 20 years in magazine publishing, marketing communications and creative services have shaped her straightforward approach to multi-channel communication. Early experience in Los Angeles as a sports writer/reporter, and then enriching years as a managing editor in allied health care publishing have pulled her across a spectrum of stimulating subject matter. Fitness, health and nutrition reside at the perfect center of this content continuum, she feels. A Chicago native, Sandy grew up fully engaged in various competitive sports. Her drive and dedication as an athlete translate to a disciplined work ethic and unwavering approach to challenge in her career. Shortly after graduating journalism school from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, she was recruited to L.A. for her first post in magazine publishing. After two decades of working on magazines--and now in the throes of applying the unbelieveable multi-media content delivery options available in the magazine 2.0 world--she is still "completely in love" with the creative process it takes to deliver meaningful, inspirational content to end users. She is an accomplished home cook and gardner who would love to combine those skills and passions with her health and fitness background to continue educating readers about a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.