Fewer than one-third of American adults eat the government recommended amount of fruits and vegetables that the government recommends, according to a new health survey. That trend has remained steady for over a decade.
The government’s goal is to get 75% of Americans to eat two servings of fruits and having half of Americans eat three servings of vegetables per day by 2010, according to Dr. Larry Cohen of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The survey, which is part of a huge federal health survey of each state, is based upon responses from 305,000 adults in 2005. The survey shows that the U.S is only about halfway towards its healthy eating goal in 2010.
In the study’s 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, the implications of a diet low in fruits and vegetables are extensive new strategies, in addition to the 5-A-Day Campaign, are necessary to help Americans make desirable behavioral changes to consume a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables.”
Previous studies have shown a disparity in the diets of blacks and whites, in addition to a serious disparity in the incidence of heart disease, cancer, and stroke.
“In 1971-74, blacks had lower intakes of vegetables, potassium, and calcium, and these differences have persisted in the latest survey in 1999-2002,” Kant said. “The race differentials were not explained by race differentials in income and education,” she added.
“There is a need to identify reasons for the persistence of race differences and explore culturally appropriate means to increase the intake of at-risk nutrients and food groups among blacks,” Kant said.
Experts think that more public education is needed to help people understand how diet and disease go hand in hand.
“We have ongoing research that shows that people are not eating adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet,” said Linda Nebeling, acting associate director of the Behavioral Research Program in the Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences at the U.S. National Cancer Institute.
Nebeling is the author of an accompanying editorial in the journal. She said that the National Institute of Health is working with the Centers for Disease Control and private groups to create a new program to help get people the message about the importance of a good diet.