by Alliance for Food and Farming
According to a new study issued by the Centers for Disease Control, consumption of fruits and vegetables continues to be stagnant with only one in 10 Americans eating enough on a daily basis. You may not have heard about the CDC announcement because this is yet another government report that surprisingly received little media coverage.
The CDC report, which broke out groups of Americans by state, income, race and gender, found some subgroups were even less likely to eat enough produce. Men, young adults and people living in poverty all had especially low rates of fruit and vegetable intake.
“The study confirms years of data demonstrating that Americans do not eat their veggies,” said Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition and food studies at New York University, in The Guardian. Assuming this result is close to reality, it suggests the need for taking much stronger action to make it easier and cheaper to eat fruits and vegetables.
The very fact that the CDC examines fruit and veggie consumption itself should be an indicator of its vital importance to our health. But here are some facts to remind everyone why produce is the only food group health experts agree we should eat more of every day for better health and a longer life.
- 20,000 cancer cases could be prevented each year if only half of all Americans increased their consumption of a fruit or veggie by a single serving every day.
- Consuming a plant rich diet can lower your risk of premature death by 42%, heart disease by 31% and cancer by 25%.
- Research shows the benefit of increased consumption on fetal health. One study showed that pregnant women who eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, nuts, legumes, whole grains and fish can reduce the risk of heart defects in their baby, sometimes by as much as 37%.
- Numerous studies illustrate the benefits of fruits and veggies on cognitive development. One recent study found that children who ate more fruits and veggies scored much higher in multiple areas on standardized academic tests.
Unfortunately, as two peer reviewed studies are showing, misinformation carried by activist groups about the safety of the more affordable (cheaper) and accessible (easier) fruits and veggies may be contributing to this trend of stagnating consumption. In one of the studies, researchers found misleading messaging which inaccurately describes certain fruits and vegetables as having pesticide residues results in low income shoppers reporting that they would be less likely to purchase any fruits and vegetables, organic or conventional.
In light of the CDC consumption statistics and peer reviewed research showing the potential effect of fear-based messaging, isn’t it time for activist groups to change their strategy from one of disparagement to encouragement? Just think what activists could do if they spent their time and considerable resources, including using their celebrity spokespersons, to encourage consumption instead of disparaging produce that has been proven safe but is also the most affordable and accessible to the majority of Americans. What a benefit that could be to public health.