A study released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) certainly tells a sad and concerning tale. The study measured the number of adults in the United States who are meeting the recommended intake of fruits and vegetables. The recommendation is that adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily should consume 1.5 – 2.0 cups of fruit, and 2 – 3 cups of vegetables daily. During 2007 – 2010, however, 76% of Americans did NOT meet the recommended fruit intake, and 87% did NOT meet the recommended vegetable intake. Half the total US population consumed less than 1 cup of fruit and less than 1.5 cups of vegetables daily. These results are dismal to say the least.
The CDC says that eating more fruits and vegetables adds nutrients to the diet, reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, and helps manage body weight when consumed in place of more energy-dense foods. (I would personally like to add that a host of other ailments are relieved or reversed by consuming a diet HIGH in fruits and vegetables!)
The data for the study is comprised from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS); and although the total number of Americans in this particular study was 373,580 adults, the results varied substantially by state. For example, Americans meeting the fruit intake recommendations vary from 7.5% in Tennessee to 17.7% in California; those meeting the recommended vegetable intake vary from 5.5% in Mississippi to 13.0% in California. In case you’re wondering where Illinois ranks, of the 5016 adults surveyed, only 14.6% eat enough fruit and only 8.7% eat enough vegetables on a daily basis.
The BRFSS is the sole source of dietary surveillance information used by most states to help identify public health nutrition problems and support the design and management of nutrition intervention programs; the BRFSS collects data on health risk behaviors and conditions, chronic diseases and conditions, access to health care and other related issues. The survey also asks respondents how many times per day, week or month they consumed 100% fruit juice, whole fruit, dried beans, dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, and other vegetables over the previous time frame.
The CDC suggests that because fruit and vegetable consumption affects multiple health outcomes and is currently low across all states, continued efforts are needed to increase demand and consumption. Improving intake during childhood is needed; 60% of children consumed less than the recommended fruit, and 93% consumed fewer vegetables than recommended between 2007-2010. School districts, schools and early care providers can help increase children’s fruit and vegetable intake with meals, snacks, and whenever food is offered; staff should also be trained to make fruits and vegetables more appealing and accessible. The CDC also suggests we should improve fruit and vegetable access, placement and promotion in grocery stores, restaurants, worksites and other community settings.
On a personal note, it’s the observation of many – myself included – that people aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables because they’re eating a poor diet in general. It’s great to increase the amount of fruits and veggies we’re eating, but we also need to improve the entire diet. It’s the totality of the diet that matters. The way to improve one’s overall diet is through education, motivation, and learning easy and practical life skills (how to prepare, shop and cook). That’s where I come in. I’m at your service when you’re ready to begin. To learn more about our classes or receive our newsletter and/or blog. We have a great class on Bone Health scheduled for the morning of Nov. 7, 2015. Get details here.