From Our 2010 Archives
Americans Skimp on Fruits and Vegetables
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The CDC Says More Needs to Be Done to Improve Access, Availability, and Affordability of Fruits, Vegetables
Reviewed By Laura J. Martin, MD
Sept. 9, 2010 -- Americans aren't eating nearly enough fruits and vegetables, the CDC says.
The percentage of Americans eating fruit two or more times every day and vegetables at least three times daily declined slightly compared to a decade ago, before health authorities began to sound the alarm about the nation's obesity epidemic.
The CDC, in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report for Sept. 10, said only 32.5% of adults in the U.S. ate fruit two or more times daily in 2009, and just over a quarter of Americans, 26.3%, ate vegetables three or more times per day.
The Healthy People 2010 objectives set by the CDC include goals that 75% of people age 2 and over eat two or more servings of fruit daily and 50% eat three or more servings of vegetables daily.
"The findings underscore the need for interventions at national, state, and community levels, across multiple settings to improve fruit and vegetable access, availability, and affordability as a means of increasing consumption," the CDC says in the news report. "A diet high in fruits and vegetables can reduce the risk for many leading causes of death."
A Look at the Numbers
The new report analyzes data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, an ongoing, state-based telephone survey of civilians in the U.S. aged 18 and over.
The CDC says no state met either of its targets. Washington, D.C., had the highest percentage of adults eating fruit twice or more per day, at 40.2%, and Oklahoma the lowest at 18.1%.
Tennessee had the highest percentage of adults eating the recommended amount of vegetables, at 33%, and South Dakota the lowest at 19.6%.
The CDC says overall prevalence of eating fruit two or more times daily decreased from 34.4% in 2000 to 32.5% in 2009. There was no significant change in vegetable consumption nationally.
The report also reveals characteristics about subgroups that are showing more improvement in reaching CDC goals. For example:
The five states or areas with the highest percentages of people eating the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables are:
Washington, D.C. 40.2%
Vermont (tie) 38.9%
New York (tie) 38.9%
Washington, D.C. 32.3%
New Hampshire 30.4%
The five states with the lowest percentages of people eating the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables are:
South Carolina 23.3%
South Dakota 19.6%
West Virginia 22.1%
To read the CDC's report, "Healthy People 2010: Objectives for Improving Health," visit http://www.healthypeople.gov/document/pdf/volume2/19nutrition.pdf.
SOURCES: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, vol 59: pp 1125-1130.