U.S. falling short on fruits and veggie consumption

by Eric Schroeder
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ATLANTA — The United States is falling short on meeting national objectives for consumption of fruits and vegetables, particularly among adolescents, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, "State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2009," is the first study to provide state-by-state data about fruit and vegetable consumption. What it found is that Americans are nowhere close to achieving the objectives of the Healthy People 2010 initiative.

Healthy People 2010 has a goal of at least 75% of Americans eating the recommended two or more daily servings of fruit and at least 50% eating the recommended three or more daily servings of vegetables. But the new report from the C.D.C. found that only 33% of adults meet the recommendation for fruit consumption and only 27% meet the recommended servings of vegetables. The findings for high school students were even worse, with only 32% eating the recommended fruit servings and only 13% eating the recommended vegetable servings.

"A diet high in fruits and vegetables is important for optimal child growth, maintaining a healthy weight, and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, all of which currently contribute to health care costs in the United States," said William H. Dietz, director of C.D.C.’s Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity. "This report will help states determine what is taking place in their communities and schools and come up with ways to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables."

Findings for the report, which was based on 2007 data, were gathered through a telephone survey for adults and via a classroom study for adolescents in grades 9-12. In each instance, participants were asked six questions about fruits and vegetables consumption.

The District of Columbia, at 20.1%, had the highest percentage of adults consuming both two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables per day, followed by Vermont at 17.9% and Maine at 17.7%. The worst consumption figures for adults were Mississippi, at 8.8%, followed by South Carolina and Oklahoma, each at 9.3%.

Among adolescents, the best fruit and vegetable consumption behavior was exhibited in Vermont, 11.4%; Florida, 10.9%; and Connecticut, 10.4%. The worst consumption occurred in Arkansas, 5.2%, followed by North Carolina at 6% and Kentucky at 6.1%.

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