"Eat your vegetables" has been heard at the dinner tables of America for a long time. Has the message gotten through? Since 1990 the Dietary Guidelines for Americans has recommended consuming at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables daily. However, two studies published in the April issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine clearly show that Americans are not meeting the mark. This is a serious public health concern because consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables is associated with decreased risk of obesity and certain chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Welch Center for Prevention, Epidemiology, and Clinical Research in Baltimore analyzed NHANES data (National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys) to determine trends over time for fruit and vegetable consumption among American adults. The answers are not encouraging. Despite campaigns and slogans, Americans have not increased their consumption, with 28% and 32% meeting USDA guidelines for fruits and vegetables, respectively, and less than 11% meeting the current USDA guidelines for both fruits and vegetables.
The study included 14,997 adults (18 years) from 1988 to 1994 and 8,910 adults from 1999 to 2002 with complete demographic and dietary data. Approximately 62% did not consume any whole fruit servings and 25% of participants reported eating no daily vegetable servings. There was no improvement in Americans fruit consumption during this period and there was a small decrease in vegetable intake.
In the article, Tiffany Gary, PhD, states, "Low fruit and vegetable consumption with no indication of improvement between 1988 and 2002 as well as consumption disparities across ethnic, income, and educational groups should alarm public health officials and professionals. With two thirds of the U.S. adult population overweight or obese, t
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