More Studies Find Americans Aren't Eating Enough Fruits and Veggies

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter
Monday, March 19, 2007; 12:00 AM

MONDAY, March 19 (HealthDay News) -- Despite aggressive public campaigns urging a more healthful diet, Americans still aren't eating the recommended daily servings of fruit and vegetables, two new studies found.

Since the 1990s, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have stressed eating at least two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables every day. But, Americans are still falling far short of that goal, according to the reports.

"We used National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys dietary data to determine the trends of fruit and vegetable consumption between 1988 and 2002," said Sarah Stark Casagrande, a graduate student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and lead author of the first report.

"We found that there was no trend for increased fruit and vegetable consumption over time," she said. "Only 11 percent of U.S. adults meet the guidelines for both fruits and vegetables."

In the study, the researchers collected data on 14,997 adults from 1988 to 1994, and 8,910 adults from 1999 to 2002.

Casagrande's team also found that 62 percent of the study participants didn't eat any fruit daily, and 25 percent didn't eat vegetables daily. Overall, there was no improvement in Americans' fruit consumption, and there was a small decrease in vegetable intake during the study period.

That means just 28 percent of Americans meet the guidelines for fruits, and 32 percent meet them for vegetables.

Not eating enough fruits and vegetables is a serious public health concern, Casagrande said, because a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is associated with a lower risk of obesity and certain chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.

The study is published in the April issue of theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The findings mirror a report released last week by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that found only 32.6 percent of adults eat fruit at least two times a day, and only 27.2 percent eat vegetables at least three times a day. That falls well below the national goal of getting 75 percent of Americans to eat fruit two or more times a day and 50 percent to eat vegetables three or more times a day by 2010.

In the second study in theAmerican Journal of Preventive Medicine, Ashima K. Kant, a professor in the Department of Family, Nutrition and Exercise Sciences at Queens College in New York City, and colleagues also used National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to see if the diets of non-Hispanic blacks have improved relative to the diets of whites.

Their finding: Little progress has been made in closing the divide between blacks and whites.

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