Article Date: 16 Mar 2007 - 7:00 PDT
A report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that Americans are not eating enough fruit and vegetables.
The report reveals that across America no state is achieving national targets for fruit and vegetable consumption. And across the nation as a whole, the number of people eating the target daily amount of fruit and vegetables is only half what the government is aiming for by the year 2010.
The government campaign, Healthy People 2010, was started in 2000 and gives a set of 10-year targets for improving the health of Americans. One important area of the campaign is diet, and consumption of fruit and vegetables in particular.
A diet high in fruit and vegetables protects health in two ways. First, it is linked to lower incidence of chronic disease. Second, because fruit and vegetables pack fewer calories for the equivalent volume of processed foods, a diet high in these ingredients helps people keep their weight down.
The Healthy People 2010 targets include increasing to 75 per cent the proportion of Americans over 2 years of age who eat two or more servings of fruit a day, and to 50 per cent the proportion who eat three or more servings a day of vegetables, with at least one serving comprising dark green or orange vegetables.
The CDC report found that in 2005:
33 per cent of adult Americans ate fruit two or more times a day, with:
- men eating more fruit than women,
- seniors eating more fruit than 35 to 44 year olds,
- Hispanics eating more fruit than other racial/ethnic groups,
- non-Hispanic whites eating the least,
- college graduates eating more fruit than those with lower education levels,
- people earning more than 50,000 US dollars a year eating more fruit than those earning less, and
- people neither obese nor overweight (Body Mass Index, BMI, under 25) eating the most and obese people (BMI over 30) eating the least amount of fruit.
27 per cent of adult Americans ate vegetables three or more times a day, with:
- men eating fewer vegetables than women,
- seniors eating more vegetables than 18 to 24 year olds,
- whites eating more vegetables than other racial/ethnic groups,
- Hispanics eating the least,
- college graduates eating more vegetables than those with lower education levels,
- people earning more than 50,000 US dollars a year eating more vegetables than those earning less, and
- people neither obese nor overweight (BMI under 25) eating the most and overweight people (BMI 25 to 30) eating the least amount of vegetables.
The report used data from the 2005 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), to assess adult consumption of fruit and vegetable by state and demographic characteristics.
The BRFSS is an annual random telephone survey designed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that monitors health behaviour and other factors contributing to the leading causes of disease and death in the population. It includes six questions on frequency, quantity and variety of fruit and vegetable intake.
The analysis took in data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia (DC), and after excluding incomplete and invalid responses, it covered over 300,000 people across the nation.
In conclusion, the CDC report suggests that if America is to reach the 2010 targets, then a "more sustained and effective public health response is needed, including continued surveillance, identification of barriers to eating more fruits and vegetables, and environmental changes (eg, increasing the proportion of fruits and vegetables in vending machines and promoting healthful food advertising and the availability of healthful foods)".
They also recommend more campaigns and interventions to persuade people to eat more healthily, for instance by increasing public awareness of the benefits of fruit and vegetables. They mention the changes in recommended numbers of daily servings of fruit and vegetables, according to sex, age and physical activity.
According to the US government's 5aday.com campaign, a 25 year old male who gets less than 30 minutes a day of exercise should eat 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables.
This would be equivalent to eating the following fruit and vegetables over the course of one day:
Morning (1 cup fruit):
Half a grapefruit, and
1 small banana
Lunchtime (1 cup veg, 1 cup fruit):
Medium plate of salad (peppers, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, raw carrot), and
Evening (2 cups veg):
1 baked potato, and
1 cup of green beans or cooked greens
5aday.com give examples of what constitutes 1 cup of fruit and vegetables.
1 cup of fruit is equal to one of the following:
1 medium grapefruit
1 large banana
1 small apple
1 medium pear
1 small wedge of watermelon
1 large orange
3 medium plums
8 large strawberries
1 cup of vegetables/salad is equal to one of the following:
1 large bell pepper
2 large celery stalks
1 medium potato (preferably baked, not fried)
1 cup cooked or 2 cups raw greens (spinach, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens)
1 large sweet potato
12 baby carrots (or 2 medium carrots)
10 broccoli or cauliflower florets
1 cup of green beans
2 cups of lettuce (counts as 1 cup of vegetables)
5aday.com, as do many other nutrition guides, stress the importance of eating fresh fruit and vegetables in a range of colours, since this is a good way to ensure you get the variety of minerals and vitamins you need.
"Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults: United States, 2005."
CDC MMWR Weekly Report, March 16, 2007 / 56(10);213-217
Written by: Catharine Paddock
Writer: Medical News Today
Interesting there isn't any chemical or toxin consumption allowances. After all, the agency's name says Center For DISEASE CONTROL. Hmm.... For me personally, it was a nice reminder to know what the cup equivalents are.