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The UK's five-a-day advice follows a recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1990, based on studies that show an association between the consumption of more than 400g of fruit and vegetables and lower risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

In its report the WHO conceded that 'nutrient goals have been set judgmentally rather than on the basis of specific evidence'.

In this sense, "the canon" denotes the entire body of literature traditionally thought to be suitable for admiration and study.

Eat five portions of fruit and veg a day, take 10,000 steps, drink eight glasses of water, brush your teeth twice and then sleep for eight hours. In fact, the number of steps seems to have been picked at random.

They're the mantras many of us follow in the belief they're based on proper research. Dig deeper and you'll find quite a bit of the health advice churned out by health authorities is based on flimsy science, if any.'The overall message is that many recommendations aren't proven outright, so don't beat yourself up or feel anxious if you don't achieve them,' says Martin Caraher, a professor of food and health policy at City, University of London.'Even the evidence-based findings should be adapted to your own needs as they will be based on general trends, not individual lifestyles.

Philadelphia: American Friends Service Committee, 1975.

Philadelhia: Indochina Program, American Friends Service Committee, May 1975. The text has been placed on-line in the Virtual Vietnam Archive of the Vietnam Project, at Texas Tech University. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press/Thomson Gale, 2006. Frank Browning and Dorothy Forman, eds., preface by Gunnar Myrdal, introduction by Richard Falk, The Wasted Nations: Report of the International Commission of Enquiry into United States Crimes in Indochina, June 20-25, 1971.