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CDC: Kids flunk fruits, but so did the adults!

  • 01 October 2009
  • Written by 
  • Published in Health
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people of the United States lack sufficient amounts of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet. And, children are worse than adults. Maybe we should change the saying of "Where's the beef?" to "Where's the fruit?"!

The CDC published its 2009 “State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables,” on September 29, 2009. The first state-by-state report can be found at the website: Fruits and Veggies Matter.

According to the CDC press release “Majority of Americans not Meeting Recommendations for Fruit and Vegetable Consumption, “No U.S. state is meeting national objectives for consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to the first report to provide state–by–state data about fruit and vegetable consumption and policies that may help Americans eat more fruits and vegetables.”

The CDC was hoping to find that at least 75% of U.S. citizens eat two or more servings of fruit each day (the minimum recommended daily serving), and at least 50% of Americans eat three or more daily servings of vegetables.

However, the American people did not achieve these percentages of fruits and vegetables in their diet—in fact, they did not even come close to them.


[Fruits and veggetables are an important part of any person's diet. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

The CDC found that only 33% of adults (people 18 years or older) ate two or more servings of fruit each day and only 27% of adults ate three or more servings of vegetables each day.

The health organization also found that high school students did even worse: only 32% of high schoolers ate at least two servings of fruit daily and only 13% ate at least three servings of vegetables daily.

Page two continues with a comment from a CDC official, along with three important areas that the CDC indicates should be improved with respect to the consumption of fruits and veggies in the United States.

Dr. William H. Dietz, director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the CDC, stated just how important a diet of fruits and veggetables is for children and young adults, “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."

He adds, "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.”


[Fruits come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes, such as pears (as shown), apples, strawberries, bananas, and blueberries--but they are all nutritious. Image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.]

According to the CDC report, three areas need to be addressed in the United States with respect to healthier eating. These areas are (1) healthier food retail, (2) Availability of Healthier Foods in Schools, and (3) Food System Support.

The CDC went into more detail about these three critical areas of healthy eating for all Americans:

Healthier Food Retail: Retailers, such as supermarkets and grocery stores that stock a variety of high–quality fruits and vegetables are a critical asset for the health of residents.

•    Only eight states have a policy for healthier food retail improvements, which can help increase the number of full–service grocery stores in areas where they are unavailable, increase the availability of healthier foods in small food stores, and promote healthier foods through information at the point of purchase. 

Availability of Healthier Foods in Schools: Schools are in a unique position to influence and promote fruit and vegetable intake among youth, school staff, parents, and other community members.

•    Only 1 in 5 (21 percent) middle and high schools offer fruits and non–fried vegetables in vending machines, school stores or snack bars.

•    21 states have a policy to support farm–to–school programs that can increase access to fruits and vegetables as well as teach school children about nutrition and agriculture.

Page three concludes with the third key area.

The third critical area to help improve fruit and vegetable habits in the United States is:

Food System Support: A systems approach to food considers many factors involved in getting fruits and vegetables from farms to consumers, including the roles of growers, processors and retailers. Food policy councils are organizations made up of many agencies and community organizations that look at access of fresh produce at the community and state levels.

These councils make recommendations about policies and programs such as farm–to–school programs, community gardens, farmers markets and availability of fresh produce in supermarkets.

•    20 states have a state–level food policy council, and 59 local food policy councils exist across the nation.

In another statistic released within the CDC report it was found that children in Vermont scored the best on the survey, with 11.4% saying they ate the recommended amounts of both fruits and vegetables.

However, kids in Arkansas scored the worse, with only 5.2% of them achieving enough fruits and vegetables every day.

How did your state perform in this survey?

Check out the state-by-state chart at “Behavioral Indicators: Fruit and Vegetable Consumption (%) ” and the state-by-state map at "Behavioral Indicators: Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Maps."


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