Photo by: Jorge Royan via Wikimedia Commons
Most Americans are not eating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables.A new study by the CDC found that only 1 in 10 Americans follow the recommendation.
The CDC recommendation is 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables daily.In the last CDC study in 2015, the agency found that only 9 percent of Americans ate enough veggies, while 12 percent consumed the recommended amount of fruits.
However, two groups that consumed the least amount of fruit and veggies are young adult males and adults who live in poverty, 11alive reported.For those who eat vegetables at all, the most common veggie they ate was potatoes, cooked as French fries.
Overall, 15.1 percent of women met the CDC guidelines for fruit intake, while only 9.2 percent of men met the guidelines. For veggie consumption, income differences had the biggest role as 11 percent of the wealthiest consumers met the CDC recommendation, while only 7 percent of the poor consumers met the guidelines for vegetables, The Packer reported.
By state, Alaskans eat the most veggies since 12 percent of state residents meet the CDC recommendations, while for fruit, the most compliant are Washington, DC residents, 16 percent of whom follow the guidelines.The lowest rate of compliance is in West Virginia where only 6 percent obey the recommendation for veggies and 7 percent for fruit.
Other states where compliance is high include Missouri, where 11 percent consume enough fruits and 8 percent veggies, and in Illinois where 14 percent of residents follow the guidelines on fruit consumption and 10 percent on vegetable consumption, STL Today noted.
Other than women, adults in the age range 31-50, and Hispanics met the fruit intake recommendation of the CDC with a 13.8 percent and 15.7 percent prevalence, respectively.Women still led compliance with CDC guidelines on veggie consumption at 10.9 percent, followed by adults aged 51 and above, with an identical 10.9 percent, and people in the highest income group with 11.4 percent.
At Risk for Chronic Ailments
By not following the CDC guidelines, Americans are missing out on the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fruit and vegetables provide, Seung Hee Lee Kwan, the lead author of the study released on Thursday, said.He warned that insufficient intake of fruits and veggies in the American diet place them at risk for chronic ailments such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.
The authors said that there is a need to identify and address the barriers to consumption of fruits and vegetables.According to past research, the high cost, limited availability and access, and lack of cooking/preparation time can be barriers to fruit and veggie consumption.
Strategies to Make More Americans Consume Fruits and Veggies
To convince more Americans to eat fruits and veggies, the CDC put in place several strategies, including improved access to retail stores and the start or expansion of farmers' markets.The strategies include the expansion of farm-to-market programs in institutional spaces such as hospitals, schools, and workplace, battling the problem of food deserts, selling healthy food where there are available stores, and focusing on nutritious products in private and public life, Fortune reported.
The report is a policy opportunity to help those who are near or below the poverty line to increase their intake of vegetable since only 7 percent met the CDC guidelines, Mollie Van Lieu, the senior director for nutrition policy for the United Fresh Produce Association, said.
The research points to the importance of federal policies that help lower-income Americans access and consume produce, including the Food Insecurity Nutrition and Incentive program.Van Lieu said there is a clear opportunity in the next Farm Bill to boost policies to increase consumption for consumers of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Val Lieu pushed for nutrition policies to continue focusing on children.Although the government has come a long way in schools in the last 10 years, especially in fruit and vegetable consumption, there is still a need to find practical ways to bring the produce on the plates of the children.
It can be done through higher commodity assistance, especially for breakfast, and ensuring the schools have access to school kitchen equipment such as cold storage and produce preparation tools.These are the strategies that matter and make a real difference on the ground, she said.
To get more veggies in the diet despite being on a food desert, Amy von Sydow Green, a registered dietitian at Penn Medicine, recommends purchasing fruits and veggies in season.She also suggested comparison shopping, the bulk buying of discounted produce for freezing later, bulk cooking of vegetable dishes, adding of vegetables wherever possible, and making a bee-line for the supermarket freezers to find high-quality, budget-friendly varieties of fruits and veggies, Daily Mail reported.