CDC: Americans not eating enough fruits and vegetables

13 Jul

A new report reveals that Americans are not meeting national recommendations for

consumption of fruits and vegetables.

fruits and vegetables arranged in heart shape
Eating more fruits and vegetables reduces risk of heart disease, stroke and some cancers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis concludes that only

13.1% of American adults eat enough fruits and only 8.9% eat enough vegetables.

The analysis uses the most recent national survey of median daily frequency of fruit and

vegetable intake and shows that states varied widely in their consumption.

California ranks highest in consumption of both fruits (17.7% of adults) and

vegetables (13%), while at the bottom of the list are Tennessee for fruit consumption (7.5%)

and Mississippi for vegetable consumption (5.5%).

Eating more fruits and vegetables increases intake of essential nutrients and reduces the

risk for heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Fruits and vegetables also help manage body

weight when eaten instead of more energy-dense foods, note the report authors, Dr. Latetia

V. Moore, of the CDC, and Dr. Frances E. Thompson, of the National Cancer Institute.

For their analysis, the authors used data for 2013 from the Behavioral Risk Factor

Surveillance System (BRFSS). The BRFSS – which in 2013 covered 373,580 respondents – is an

ongoing, state-based telephone survey of US adults that collects data on a number of health-related areas, including food and disease.

The survey asks people questions about the types of fruits and vegetables they eat and how

frequently they eat them. The categories include: 100% fruit juice, whole fruit, dried beans,

dark green vegetables, orange vegetable and other vegetables.

The authors compared the responses to the nationally recommended guidelines which state that

adults who engage in less than 30 minutes of moderate physical activity daily should consume

1.5-2.0 cup equivalents of fruit and 2-3 cups of vegetables daily. (Adults who are more

physically active may be able to consume more to match their increased calorie needs.)

‘Substantial new efforts are needed’

Because of changes to how the survey was done and the types of questions it asks, it is

not possible to compare the results with those of previous years, say the report authors.

They note that during 2007-10, half of the US population consumed under 1 cup of fruits

and under 1.5 cups of vegetables a day: 76% did not meet recommendations for fruit intake,

and 87% did not meet vegetable intake recommendations.

The impression is that Americans appear to be stuck at a low level of fruit and vegetable

consumption as the report concludes:

“Substantial new efforts are needed to build consumer demand for fruits and

vegetables through competitive pricing, placement and promotion in child care, schools,

grocery stores, communities and worksites.”

The American Heart Association

include the following among their tips for increasing daily intake of fruits and


  • Fill at least half your plate with fruits and vegetables
  • All produce counts: canned, dried, fresh and frozen
  • Compare food labels on canned, dried and frozen fruits and vegetables and choose the

    lowest sodium and added sugar content

  • Add a fruit or vegetable salad to lunch or dinner
  • Eat raw vegetable sticks instead of chips
  • Carry dried fruit, such as raisins, dates or dried apricots for snacks
  • Add chopped vegetables like onions, garlic and celery when preparing soup, stew, beans,

    rice and sauces

Medical News Today recently reported on a study from the CDC published in the journal

Circulation that finds sugary drink consumption

may be responsible for more than 184,000 adult deaths worldwide each year. The study defines

sugary drinks as sugar-sweetened sodas, sports and energy drinks, fruit drinks (but not 100%

fruit juices), sweetened ice teas and homemade sugary drinks.

Written by Catharine Paddock PhD

Copyright: Medical News Today