American Children Still Eating Too Few Vegetables
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there’s some good news and some bad news regarding American children’s eating habits. From 2003 to 2010, intake of whole fruits rose by 67% among the nation’s children. At the same time, fruit juice consumption dropped, by nearly one third. Those are both encouraging trends. Whole fruits are a good source of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidant phytonutrients.
But there’s still ample room for improvement when it comes to motherly advice to “eat your vegetables.” While fruit consumption rose by two thirds, consumption of whole vegetables remained steady. That’s discouraging, because consumption was—and still is—far lower than health experts recommend.
Experts note that adding the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables to the diet “reduces the risks for leading causes of illness and death, and helps manage body weight.” Eating fruits and vegetables adds important nutrients to the diet, and reduces the risk for many serious illnesses. Among them are high blood pressure, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.
Despite improvements in fruit consumption, a troubling 60% of children are still eating too little whole fruit. Even worse, a whopping 93% of children fail to eat the recommended amounts of vegetables every day. CDC provided the information as a public service, noting that schools and childcare facilities are important sources of both nutritional foods for kids and information about how to eat a healthier diet.
According to a press release issued by CDC: “Schools and early care and education providers can help continue progress on fruit intake and improve vegetable intake by: 1) meeting or exceeding current nutrition standards for meals and snacks, 2) serving fruits and vegetables whenever food is offered, 3) training staff members to make fruits and vegetables more appealing and ready to eat, and 4) providing nutrition education and hands-on learning opportunities such as growing and preparing fruits and vegetables.”
Kim SA, Moore LV, et al. Vital Signs: Fruit and Vegetable Intake Among Children — United States, 2003–2010http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6331a3.htm?s_cid=mm6331a3_w