CDC: Too few eating fruits, vegetables

Fewer than a third of American adults eat the
amount of fruits and vegetables the government recommends, a trend that’s
remained steady for more than a decade, health officials said Thursday. That’s
“well below” the government’s goal of getting 75 percent of Americans to eat two
servings of fruits and having half of the population consume three servings of
vegetables each day by 2010, said Dr. Larry Cohen of the U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention.

The diet
survey, part of a huge federal health survey of every state, is based on
responses from 305,000 adults in 2005. It indicates the country is only about
halfway toward meeting its healthy eating goal three years from
now.

“We’re really concerned with the lack of success in
meeting these national goals,” said Cohen, who works in CDC’s nutrition and
physical activity division.

Although the
rate of fruit and vegetable consumption has remained unchanged since 1994,
health officials said the goal is still within
reach.

“We have more work to do over the
next few years,” said spokeswoman Rachel
Ciccarone.

Specifically the survey showed
that 27 percent of adults ate vegetables three times a day, and about 33 percent
ate fruit twice a day. A serving size is a half-cup for most fruits and
vegetables, one cup for leafy
greens.

Senior citizens were more likely
than others to follow Mom’s advice to eat more veggies, with slightly more than
a third of that group eating three or more servings each day. Younger adults,
age 18 to 24, ate the fewest vegetables. Nearly four-fifths of that age category
scraped the veggies to the side of their plates — if they had vegetables
on the plate at all.

Likewise, seniors
also ate the most fruit, with nearly 46 percent eating two or more servings of
fruit daily. People age 35 to 44 ate fruit the least, with fewer than 28 percent
eating the recommended amount of fruit each
day.

The federal agency said it doesn’t
know why people aren’t eating more veggies or fruits. Cohen said future surveys
will ask people what other foods they are
eating.

Susan Krause, a clinical
dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, said people are
eating more refined sugars or choosing protein instead of fruits and
vegetables.

“There’s so much information
out there and people get very confused. When they’re looking at protein, they
feel that’s the solution when they’re not looking at long-term health benefits,”
she said. “There’s so many fabricated foods now and people are looking at
convenience.”

Not only are fruits and
vegetables lower-calorie, they also have minerals and fiber that help guard
against chronic diseases and cancer, the CDC
says.

The survey relied on people to
report what they were eating. Telephone questioners asked how often they
consumed fruit juice, fruit and vegetables. Although Hispanics ate the most
fruits (37 percent) compared with blacks and whites, they ate the fewest
vegetables, (about 20 percent). Whites, in contrast, ate the fewest fruits (31
percent) but the most veggies (28
percent).

Cohen said the CDC has been
working on family and community programs to get more people to eat their
veggies. The agency is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to get
more fresh produce into schools.

Krause
said health officials should offer people simple options for getting fruits and
vegetables in their diets, such as easy recipes in cooking classes and fruit
smoothies or shakes in schools.

“If
that’s a way of getting it in, at least it’s in the right direction,” she said.
“Certainly (whole) fruit is a better choice, but that could be the next
alternative.”


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Posted: 03/15/2007 at 03:32 PM
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Posted: 03/15/2007 at 03:32 PM
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