THURSDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- In 2000, the U.S.
government set modest goals for the amount of fruit and vegetables
people should eat, but a decade later the majority of Americans are
not even close to reaching those thresholds, health officials said
In fact, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention, in 2009, 67.5 percent of adults ate fruit less than two
times daily and 73.7 percent ate vegetables less than three times
per day. The goals of Healthy People 2010 were for 75 percent of
people to eat at least two servings of fruit and 50 percent to eat
at least three servings of vegetables every day.
"Over the last decade we have looked at behavioral intervention, like counseling to get people to include their fruits and vegetables," said report co-author Dr. Jennifer Foltz, a researcher in the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. "But it's not so easy."
"In the next decade, we are going to work on making the healthy choice the easy choice," she said.
New programs will involve promoting gardening, farmer's markets
and bringing more fruits and vegetables into schools and
workplaces, Foltz said.
In addition, Foltz said there could be programs to help
retailers increase the availability of fruits and vegetables
through incentives like tax breaks as well as making it easier for
low-income people to afford fresh fruit and vegetables.
Foltz noted that low-income Americans are more likely not to
have access to fresh fruits and vegetables at affordable prices,
which is why programs specifically targeted at this population are
The report is published in the Sept. 10 issue of the CDC's
Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Despite efforts to increase healthy eating, over the past decade
there has been a 2 percent decrease in fruit consumption and no
change in the vegetable consumption, the researchers found.
No state has yet met the Healthy People 2010 goals, Foltz said.
In fact only one state, Idaho, rose in the amount of fruits and
vegetables ate while 10 states saw a decrease in fruit and
The 10 states where significant decreases in fruit and vegetable
consumption were seen are Arizona, Kansas, Maryland, North
Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota,
Tennessee and West Virginia, according to the report.
A diet rich in fruit and vegetables is an important part of
keeping your weight under control and reducing the risk of heart
disease, some cancers, stroke, chronic lower respiratory diseases
and diabetes, the authors say.
Connie Diekman, director of university nutrition at Washington
University in St Louis, said that "as a registered dietitian I hear
three main reasons as to why meeting recommended intake is so
These include accessibility of fresh produce and failure to
recognize nutritional values of frozen or canned fruits and
vegetables. Also, the time involved in preparing fresh vegetables
and inconvenience of carrying fruits or vegetables for those needed
fast snacks or meals, she said.
"Another factor that seems to impact purchasing fresh produce that is not clear in this report is the cost of fresh produce," Diekman said. "With economic changes the last several years, the slight differences in consumption based on household income might be an important factor for health-care providers to address."
Another expert, Samantha Heller, a dietitian, nutritionist,
exercise physiologist and clinical nutrition coordinator at the
Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Conn., said
that "it is common knowledge that fruits and vegetables are good
Unfortunately it appears that less healthy foods are taking the
place of vegetables and fruit in the diet of most Americans, she
"It is easy to fill up on fast food, junk foods, sweets and sugar-sweetened beverages. In addition, by eating these highly palatable foods -- those high in fat, sugar and sodium -- we alter our taste and mental expectations about how a food is 'supposed' to taste," Heller said.
"We end up craving these foods and the healthier fare is ignored. Thus, a sweet ripe peach does not taste very sweet to someone who just chugged a 20-ounce soda or ate a bowl of ice cream. The same with vegetables. The delicious taste of many vegetable pales in comparison with high-fat, high-sodium cheese burgers and french fries," she said.
Some simple ways to add more fruits and vegetables to your day
include adding berries to your cereal or yogurt, throwing frozen
vegetables into your soup and adding carrots, broccoli and
mushrooms to your pasta sauce, Heller suggested.
To find out how many fruits & veggies you need per day, head
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and
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