Posts Tagged “vegetable consumption”

Study: Eating Right Amount of Vegetables Can Improve Mental Health, Happiness

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When healthy adults consume the daily amount of vegetable servings recommended by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) it has a positive effect on how happy the person feels, according to a study completed by scientists at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

Many studies show that eating the DGA-recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables is good for our general health, but only a few studies have demonstrated the role that vegetable consumption (separate from fruits) has on one’s mental health.

A group of scientists at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota, conducted an eight-week study to evaluate the impact of increasing daily vegetable servings to match DGA recommendations on how happy one perceives themself to be, a key measurement of psychological well-being.

The study divided healthy men and women between 18 and 65 years old into two groups. The first group of participants [the vegetable intervention group] received daily servings of DGA-recommended number and variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange, and starchy vegetables, based on their energy needs during the course of the study. The vegetable servings were minimally processed (raw and diced), making it simple for participants to include in their meals. The second group of participants [the control group] received the same number of interactions and attention from the researchers while maintaining a diet without adding v


Many studies show that eating the DGA-recommended daily amounts of fruits and vegetables is good for our general health, but only a few studies have demonstrated the role that vegetable consumption (separate from fruits) has on one’s mental health.

A group of scientists at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center in Grand Forks, North Dakota, conducted an eight-week study to evaluate the impact of increasing daily vegetable servings to match DGA recommendations on how happy one perceives themself to be, a key measurement of psychological well-being.

The study divided healthy men and women between 18 and 65 years old into two groups. The first group of participants [the vegetable intervention group] received daily servings of DGA-recommended number and variety of vegetables, including dark green, red, and orange, and starchy vegetables, based on their energy needs during the course of the study. The vegetable servings were minimally processed (raw and diced), making it simple for participants to include in their meals. The second group of participants [the control group] received the same number of interactions and attention from the researchers while maintaining a diet without adding vegetables.

Sliced cucumbers, yellow squash and tomatoes.

All participants completed a questionnaire called the Subjective Happiness Scale (SHS). This is a subjective assessment that provides a mean overall score of a person’s state of happiness based on the respondent’s perspective. The study included measurements taken before and after the eight-week intervention.

“We observed an increased in SHS scores in participants from the group that followed the DGA recommendations for vegetable intake, whereas SHS scores stayed the same for the control group, who didn’t change their diet,” said ARS Research Biologist Shanon Casperson.

“Results suggest that increasing the amount of vegetables you eat every day may benefit your mental health,” added Casperson.

The eight-week study was part of a parent study, a more extensive study conducted at the Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center that sought to determine whether adults with overweight and obesity would become more motivated to eat vegetables if they increased the number of servings they ate every day. Unlike very tasty less healthy foods, which become more reinforcing if you eat them every day, increasing the amount of vegetables eaten daily does not make them more reinforcing, highlighting the difficulty of increasing vegetable consumption in adults. However, focusing on the benefits eating more vegetables has on psychological well-being may provide a more salient reason for people to increase their vegetable consumption.

The Agricultural Research Service is the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s chief scientific in-house research agency. Daily, ARS focuses on solutions to agricultural problems affecting America. Each dollar invested in U.S. agricultural research results in $20 of economic impact.

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New Study: Vegetables Alone Cannot Stave off Heart Disease

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High consumption of vegetables alone won’t help prevent heart disease in adults who are deficient in physical activity and other lifestyle factors, according to a new study.

In the study of about 400,000 middle-aged adults in the United Kingdom with a 12-year follow-up, higher consumption of raw but not cooked vegetables was associated with lower heart disease risk.

However, researchers at Oxford’s Nuffield Department of Population Health and other institutions said even the benefit of raw vegetables to reduce heart disease was probably not as important as other lifestyle factors, including physical activity, smoking, drinking, fruit consumption, red and processed meat consumption, and use of vitamin and mineral supplements.

“This study suggests the need to reappraise the evidence on the burden of cardiovascular disease attributable to low vegetable intake in the high-income populations,” the research summary said. 

The study was published Feb. 21 in the journal Frontiers in Nutrition.

Mollie Van Lieu, vice president of nutrition and health for the International Fresh Produce Association, said she wasn’t surprised to see the research results.

“We know that contributors of poor heart health are obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and a host of other factors from eating an excess of foods that aren’t fresh fruits and vegetables,” Van Lieu said. “If an individual continues to eat a diet high in sugar, sodium, unhealthy fats and refined ultra-processed carbohydrates, we cannot expect vegetables to singularly fix the harm that those foods cause.”

That being said, there is “no question” that a healthy dietary pattern must include a wide variety of vegetables, said Van Lieu, and that increasing consumption of whole and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables can help individuals reduce consumption of other foods that contribute to poor health.

“We don’t want studies like this to distract from the importance of growing consumption,” she said. “But what studies like this can point to is that we need an overall nutrition strategy that addresses all the factors that contribute to poor dietary health and prevents our population from consuming the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables.”

Taylor Wallace, principal and CEO of the Think Healthy Group and adjunct professor in the Department of Nutrition and Food Studies for George Mason University, said the United Kingdom study adjusted for far more variables than a typical study.

“An issue with nutrition epidemiology (in general) is that you can easily ‘overcorrect,’ which leads to null findings,” he said. “The ‘residual confounding’ argument the authors give in the conclusion works the opposite way, too … its more likely they overcorrected and lost the effect. Just because its cloudy outside doesn’t mean the sun isn’t shining.”

Another limiting factor in the study, Wallace said, was that intake of vegetables was assessed only once at baseline. 

“This makes the study a very weak and ill-designed prospective cohort study that has limited utility,” he said. “Cohort studies that show beneficial effects of vegetables (of all forms) used validated food frequency questionnaires many times over a 12-year period, as dietary patterns often change. This is not a good measure of food intake at all.”

In addition, he said the study couldn’t account for cooking methods, such as whether vegetables were fried, baked or boiled. Those diverse types of cooking methods may have very different influences on cardiovascular disease and overall health, Wallace said.

“Not accounting for factors like this is equivalent to throwing dice down a roulette table and then claiming the game is impossible to win at because you lost,” he said. 

Also, he said findings not reported in the abstract but apparent in the supplemental files show that adjustment for all the covariates didn’t make a difference in regard to all-cause mortality. “There was still a large protective effect of cooked and raw vegetables,” Wallace said.

In general, he said, the study data goes against what has consistently and frequently been reported in systematic reviews and other epidemiological analyses.

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Vegetable Varieties Consumed have Expanded, Reports USDA

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The USDA in a new report has expanded the variety of vegetables Americans eat over in the last 20 yearst.

The USDA’s Economic Research Service, said from 2000 to 2019, dark green vegetables, red and orange vegetables (excluding tomatoes), and legumes increased their combined share of the vegetables available to eat in the U.S. from 16% to 22%.

The total amount of vegetables available decreased by 4% from 417.4 pounds per capita to 400.1 pounds, coming off the low of 369.6 pounds in 2015, said researchers. The USDA’s food availability data for vegetables include fresh, frozen, canned and dried forms, all measured in fresh-weight equivalents, the report said.

Subgroups of vegetables seeing declines, included white potatoes and “other vegetables,” a subgroup containing 16 different vegetables. Availability of white potatoes fell from 138 pounds per capita to 119.1 pounds between 2000 and 2019, and other starchy vegetables fell from 31.3 to 21.2 pounds.

Availability of other vegetables fell from 93.6 pounds per capita to 83.7 pounds; the report said declines in head lettuce, cabbage, and beets in that subgroup were partially offset by increased availability of onions and cucumbers.

Other vegetable subgroups posted increases in supplies available to eat between 2000 and 2019. The red and orange subgroup (minus tomatoes, for which the USDA said availability has remained flat) had the largest increase in availability, growing from 35.1 pounds per capita to 49.0 pounds.

“In terms of growth in availability, sweet potatoes, chile peppers, and bell peppers were the leaders,” the report said.

The increase availability of dark green vegetables from 2000 to 2019 — led by a 47% jump in romaine and leaf lettuce — added variety to American’s vegetable choices. 

Higher supplies of kale, spinach, and broccoli also helped boost availability of dark green vegetables from 21.7 pounds per capita in 2000 to 27.5 pounds in 2019, the report said.

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Latest Dietary Guidelines Emphasize Importance of Vegetable Consumption

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By Potatoes USA

DENVER — “It’s official: the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans have yet again confirmed the importance of eating more vegetables such as potatoes that provide potassium and vitamin C.1

“The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommendations focus on increased nutrient-dense vegetable consumption. Americans can take simple steps toward eating healthier by choosing potatoes. As a nutrient-dense vegetable, potatoes support all three healthy eating patterns – Healthy U.S., Healthy Vegetarian, and Healthy Mediterranean – defined in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Potatoes’ versatility also means they can easily fit into meals across a variety of personal and cultural preferences for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“For the first time in the history of the committee’s guidance on nutrition and health, the Dietary Guidelines also covers specific recommendations for individuals under two years old, supporting potatoes as a healthy first food for babies and toddlers, as well.

“Potatoes are a good source of potassium, providing 15% of the daily value per serving in addition to being an excellent source of vitamin C, providing 30% of the daily value per serving. Vitamin C may help support the body’s immune system,2 which is likely to be especially top-of-mind for Americans as we head into 2021.

“What’s more, research shows that you’re likely to feel full for longer3-5 and support your body with the nutrients it needs when you choose good carbohydrates like potatoes. A serving of potatoes has 26 grams of high-quality carbohydrates that can help fuel an active lifestyle. Carbohydrates are the key fuel utilized by the brain and by muscles during exercise.6 Many Americans are moving to plant-based diets7 and obtaining enough high-quality protein is important in this process. Potatoes contain 3 grams of a complete protein that can easily be absorbed by the body.8,9

“Many Americans are struggling with food insecurity and are not meeting recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake.10 Research suggests that potatoes are an affordable, nutrient-dense vegetable that provides more nutrients per penny than most other vegetables.11

“Potatoes are a nutritious, affordable option that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways – including simple, delicious preparations with few ingredients, making them easy to incorporate into a healthy diet. For more information on potato nutrition and preparation please visit”

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About Potatoes USA
Potatoes USA is the marketing organization for the 2,500 commercial potato growers operating in the United States. Potatoes USA was established in 1971 by a group of potato growers to promote the benefits of eating potatoes. Today, as the largest vegetable commodity board, Potatoes USA is proud to be recognized as an innovator in the produce industry. For more information on Potatoes USA’s mission to “Strengthen Demand for U.S. Potatoes” by creating positive change in the industry through innovative and inspiring approaches, please visit

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Who is Driving Growth Of Vegetable Consumption

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aageneralproduceshotby The NPD Group, Inc

Chicago — The continual parental reminder to “eat your vegetables” stuck with Millennials and Gen Zs because they are driving the growth in fresh and frozen vegetable consumption, but many of the parents who offered the reminder are not eating theirs, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company.  Younger consumers, those under age 40, have increased the annual eatings per capita of fresh vegetables by 52 percent and frozen vegetables by 59 percent over the last decade. Boomers, ages 60 and up, on the other hand, decreased their consumption of fresh vegetables by 30 percent and frozen vegetables by 4 percent over the same period.

Increased consumption of fresh vegetables is an outcome of the shift to fresh foods among young consumers over the last decade.  Generational change is partly responsible for the move to fresh as younger consumers are adopting fresh at a much earlier age than the generations before them. Millennials and Gen Zs will sustain the growth of fresh vegetable consumption as they age into their heaviest consumption years. Over the next several years fresh vegetable consumption is forecast to increase by 10 percent, an increase that will be tempered by the lower eating rates of Boomers, according to NPD Group’s

A Generational Study:  The Evolution of Eating.

Frozen vegetable consumption, which was declining earlier this decade, is now on the rise due to the interest of more health-conscious Millennials and Gen Zs.  Just as they did with fresh vegetable consumption, these younger consumers are eating more frozen vegetables than previous generations did at their ages.  Although the category’s growth forecast is not as strong as fresh vegetables, consumption of frozen vegetables is forecast to increase by 3 percent through 2024.

“Vegetable consumption among younger consumers is a reflection of their more health-conscious eating behaviors,” says David Portalatin, vice president, food industry analyst at NPD Group and author of the recently published Eating Patterns in America.  “Our research shows that their attitudes about eating vegetables will not shift as they age and go through their life stages. Their parents and grandparents, on the other hand, may need a reminder from the younger generations to eat their vegetables.”

About The NPD Group, Inc.

The NPD Group provides market information and business solutions that drive better decision-making and better results. The world’s leading brands rely on us to help them get the right products in the right places for the right people. Practice areas include apparel, appliances, automotive, beauty, consumer electronics, diamonds, e-commerce, entertainment, fashion accessories, food consumption, foodservice, footwear, home, mobile, office supplies, retail, sports, technology, toys, video games, and watches / jewelry.

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Incomes, Education Linked to Higher Veg Consumption

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USDAby Biing-Hwan Lin and Rosanna Mentzer Morrison

Data on vegetable consumption broken down by income level reveal that individuals (children and adults) in households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty level consumed smaller quantities of potatoes and tomatoes than people in households with incomes above that level. In 2007-08, lower income individuals consumed 49.3 and 28.1 pounds per person per year of potatoes and tomatoes, respectively, and those with higher incomes consumed 53.8 pounds of potatoes and 32.1 pounds of tomatoes per person. A bigger difference was observed in consumption of other vegetables (nonpotato and nontomato): 85.8 pounds per person for higher income individuals versus 69.8 pounds per person for lower income individuals.

The more educated the adult, the more other vegetables (nonpotato and nontomato) eaten. In 2007-08, college-educated adults consumed 187.4 pounds of total vegetables per person per year, of which 100.7 pounds were other vegetables. Adults with only a high school education ate 181.9 pounds of total vegetables per person, of which 87.6 pounds were other vegetables. Adults who had less than a high school education consumed 158.2 pounds per person of all vegetables, of which 76.3 pounds were other vegetables.

Consumption Trends Consistent Across Demographic Groups for Juice…

Total fruit consumption was lower in 2007-08 than in 1994-98 for all four age and gender groups. For example, girls’ consumption of fruit declined from 131.3 pounds per person per year in 1994-98 to 121.2 pounds in 2007-08. Some of the decline in total fruit consumption was due to less orange juice being drunk by all four groups. Orange juice is the largest fruit category in terms of consumption, and average U.S. consumption fell from the equivalent of 38.3 pounds of oranges per person per year in 1994-98 to 30.9 pounds in 2007-08.

Falling orange juice consumption, however, was not the only driver of declining fruit consumption—declines were common for other fruits as well. Apple juice, berries, and grapes were the only fruits and fruit categories that had higher average U.S. consumption in 2007-08 than in 1994-98. Every demographic group examined displayed the same patterns for apple juice and orange juice consumption—larger quantities of apple juice and smaller quantities of orange juice were consumed in 2007-08 versus 1994-98.

… But Not For Whole Fruits

Trends in whole fruit consumption were not consistent across demographic groups. In this study, whole fruits comprised all categories of fruits consumed, minus orange juice and apple juice. Thus, whole fruit consumption includes a relatively small amount of juices from other fruits, such as pineapple juice and grape juice, in addition to whole fruits. Federal dietary guidance advises that at least half a person’s recommended daily intake of fruits be whole fruits.

Whole fruit consumption declined for the age and gender groups between 1994-98 and 2007-08. For example, boys’ consumption of whole fruits fell from 71.9 pounds per person per year in 1994-98 to 65.4 pounds in 2007-08. For non-college-educated adults, consumption of whole fruits was relatively stable over the period, averaging around 65 pounds per person per year; for college-educated adults, it fell from 93.7 pounds in 1994-98 to 83.2 pounds in 2007-08.

Higher income consumers’ consumption of whole fruit fell from 81.2 pounds per person per year in 1994-98 to 75.7 pounds in 2007-08, whereas lower income individuals consumed similar quantities in both periods. Non-Hispanic Whites and Hispanics’ consumption of whole fruits declined between 1994-98 and 2007-08, while non-Hispanic Blacks’ consumption in the two periods rose from 65.5 to 71.4 pounds per person per year.

Multiple Factors Affect What We Buy and Eat

ERS’s food availability and loss-adjusted food availability data show that Americans are not increasing their intake of fruits and vegetables, despite the exhortations of health and nutrition experts. Federal food intake surveys also point out lower fruit and vegetable consumption. The big question for future research is why? In some cases, one or two particular fruits and vegetables make up much of the decrease. For vegetables, U.S. potato consumption has fallen from 61.3 to 52.0 pounds per person between 1994-98 and 2007-08, with bigger relative drops for boys and no change in potato consumption for non-Hispanic Blacks. Declining orange juice consumption among all demographic groups is the largest contributor to lower fruit consumption.

Substitution among some products is also evident. Head lettuce is down, but leafy greens—such as spinach and kale—are up. Between 1994-98 and 2007-08, consumption of nonpotato and nontomato vegetables by women grew slightly from 85.5 to 87.7 pounds per person per year. For girls, boys, and men, small declines in consumption of nonpotato and nontomato vegetables occurred. Less bananas and citrus fruits are being consumed, but consumption of berries has risen over the decade. Increases in some whole fruits were not enough to offset declines in other fruits, and whole fruit consumption fell for all age and gender groups.

Food choices are complex, and a multitude of factors affect what we buy and eat. Life style changes and time constraints can determine if we sit down with a glass of orange juice for breakfast, grab a banana on the way out, or forgo the meal altogether. Time for and interest in cooking play a role, too. More eating out could mean more fries on the side or consumption of vegetables not usually prepared at home. Dietary fads and widespread popularity of ethnic cuisines can cause shifts in food choices, including for fruits and vegetables.

The price of products and the income available to buy them can also affect a person’s food choices. Smaller food budgets over time or higher prices due to supply constraints or other factors can induce one to switch to a lower priced alternative food item. Observing national trends and patterns for demographic groups is a first step in analyzing what is driving food choice and potential changes over time.


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U.S. Produce Consumption Decline Continues

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IMG_6589+1by Biing-Hwan Lin and Rosanna Mentzer Morrison

Despite Federal nutrition guidance, food industry promotional campaigns, and encouragement from parents to “Eat your vegetables,” Americans’ consumption of fruits and, especially, vegetables has declined.

Over the last decade, loss-adjusted supplies of total fruits and vegetables available to consume in the United States have fallen from 299 pounds per person in 2003 to 272 pounds per person in 2013.  Not the direction that nutritionists and others interested in the public’s health had hoped for.

However, a deeper look into the overall numbers reveals that three fruits and vegetables—orange juice, potatoes, and head lettuce—account for 22 pounds of this 27-pound decline.  And, despite the decline in consumption of some fruits and vegetables, Americans are consuming more of other types of these nutrient-packed foods.

The loss-adjusted food availability data serve as a proxy for consumption by the nation as a whole but do not reveal who eats what foods and how much is eaten by particular demographic groups.  A more nuanced analysis of consumption trends—by product and by demographic groups—would identify shortfalls for particular groups and help in targeting nutrition outreach efforts.

In a recent report, Economic Research Service (USDA) researchers linked ERS’s food availability data and food intake survey data, using a USDA database that translates foods into their commodity components. This linkage enabled them to break down ERS’s national consumption estimates by household and personal characteristics, helping to answer the questions: How widespread is the decline in fruit and vegetable consumption?  And, is it steeper for some groups than others?

Potatoes Driving Declining Vegetable Consumption

National food intake surveys provide demographic breakdowns of who is eating what foods and how much. However, survey respondents report foods as eaten—such as a slice of apple pie, a cup of applesauce, or a glass of apple juice. A database providing the amount of apple in each food is needed to derive the total amount of apples, or other food commodities, consumed by an individual.

ERS researchers used FICRCDs to disaggregate the thousands of mixed foods recorded in the intake surveys—from apple pie to zucchini lasagna—into 63 foods and beverages, including 11 fruits or fruit groups and 15 vegetables or vegetable groups.  Per capita measures of foods and beverages eaten by people in different demographic groups were estimated by taking average consumption patterns from the surveys for different subgroups of the U.S. population and applying these patterns to the loss-adjusted food availability data for the corresponding year.

Consumption of total vegetables fell across the four age and gender groups between 1994-98 and 2007-08. Much of this decline was driven by reduced consumption of potatoes, which includes baked, mashed, french fries, chips, and other forms expressed in fresh-weight equivalents. Boys (age 2 to 19) had the largest drop; their potato consumption fell from 63.7 pounds per person per year in 1994-98 to 45.2 pounds in 2007-08. Potato consumption by non-Hispanic Whites, Hispanics, and other races fell over the period from 63.8 to 55.4, from 52.4 to 38.2, and from 50.5 to 37.1 pounds per person per year, respectively. Throughout the period, non-Hispanic Blacks consumed about 58.1 pounds of potatoes per person per year.

Intake of tomatoes—the second most consumed vegetable—held fairly steady between 1994-98 and 2007-08 for all age groups. When consumption of potatoes and tomatoes is subtracted from the mix, consumption of other vegetables by girls, boys, and men fell, too, but not as sharply as that of potatoes. For women, annual consumption of nonpotato and nontomato vegetables increased slightly (2.2 pounds per person). Some vegetables posting gains in consumption over this period in all age groups include peppers, leafy greens, and broccoli and cauliflower.

Total vegetable consumption declined between 1994 and 2008 across four race/ethnic background groups—non-Hispanic Whites, Non-Hispanic Blacks, Hispanics, and others. The decline was smallest among non-Hispanic Whites (5.5 pounds per person per year), followed by non-Hispanic Blacks (11.9 pounds), Hispanics, (23.0 pounds), and others (27.2 pounds).

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Videos Help Increase Children’s Veggie Consumption

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DSCN4896When preschoolers watch videos of other children eating vegetables, they’re more likely to eat vegetables themselves, according to research conducted by Louisiana State University’s Pennington Biomedical Research Center.
Peer modeling on a digital screen may be an effective tool to encourage vegetable consumption among preschool children, the research shows.
Children between the ages of 3 and 5 were more likely to choose to eat that vegetable when presented with it one week later, after viewing a video of peers consuming a vegetable like bell peppers. Additionally, parents of the children who saw the video of peers eating vegetables were marginally more likely to make that vegetable available in the home soon thereafter, and those children were also more likely to report a higher preference for the vegetable.
“As we work to explore easy-to-use tools to help influence children’s attitudes toward healthy eating and to make it more fun and exciting, this study lays the foundation for interventions that we may be able to translate into home or school settings in the future,” said Amanda Staiano, PhD, lead author on the study and assistant professor of research in Pennington Biomedical’s Pediatric Obesity and Health Behavior Laboratory.
Research published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association shows one-third of preschoolers eat zero servings of fruit and vegetables a day. In contrast, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-20 recommend preschool-aged children eat four to six servings of fruits and vegetables each day.

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Only 4% of Americans are Eating Enough Vegetables

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DSCN7074When it comes to eating vegetables, Americans aren’t doing much better than your average school kid. Only 4 percent meet their daily required consumption of veggies, according to the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance.

The 2015 Report Card by the Alliance has given kids a grade D with vegetable consumption, while the marketing of vegetables has received an F.

But even with the growing popularity of vegetable-forward restaurants and veggie-inspired meals, there is still a lack of vegetables consumed at home. The 2015 Report Card says that the problem is getting worse. The average consumption of vegetables, which excludes fried potatoes, declined by 6 percent during the past five years.

The report offers a reason why this is the case:

“Dinner looks different these days. The growing popularity of convenience items and one-dish meals, such as pizza and sandwiches, has pushed the vegetable side dish off the plate.” the report reads.

When it comes to preparing home meals, the article suggests that parents may not be as strict on making sure their kids have enough vegetables.  Elizabeth Pivonka, registered dietitian and president and CEO of the Produce for Better Health Foundation, explains that parents don’t want to be line cooks and make tailored meals for everyone at home.

“It used to be: This is what we’re eating, so eat it,” Pivonka says.

One third of parents (35 percent) view getting their kids to eat vegetables as a battle, just behind getting them to clean their room and to stop bickering.

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Little Progress in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

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DSCN2909+1by National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance

Hockessin, Del. – A new report card evaluates critical policies and programs impacting our food choices and their contributions to our nation’s health over the past 10 years.

Overall, the positive impact has been minimal despite proven scientific data continuously showing that a diet high in fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of several serious, chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death.  In 2005, the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) – led by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – developed a National Action Plan, providing a new and comprehensive approach for improved public health through increased fruit and vegetable consumption.

10 years later, the Alliance has released a second Report Card to evaluate progress made by schools, restaurants, supermarkets, and federal and state governments in its 2015 National Action Plan (NAP).  Similar to the first Report Card released in 2010, the 2015 NAP Report Card utilizing survey data finds that the average American’s fruit and vegetable consumption remains far below recommended levels, with a 5 percent decline during the past five years.

The decline is largely driven by a decrease in 100 percent juice consumption, especially at breakfast, and a decline in the dinner side dish for vegetables.  There were differences in consumption by age, with positive increases in fruit consumption among all children and vegetable consumption among teens.

In contrast, consumers over age 45, who typically eat the most fruits and vegetables, are trending downward in their consumption of both over time.  Overall, only 4percent of individuals achieve their recommended target for vegetables and only 8 percent achieve their recommended target for fruit in an average day.

The Report Card assigned an ‘A’ grade to schools, given the doubling of fruits and vegetables in school meals as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.  An ‘A’ grade was also offered to the Healthy Incentive Pilot program that demonstrated strong positive results at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP households, which helped justify the new USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program to test other methods of incentivizing SNAP participants to purchase fruits and vegetables.

An ‘A’ grade was also offered, once again, to the WIC Fruit and Vegetable Vouchers program, which was introduced in 2009 as part of a special supplemental program for Women, Infants and Children. Restaurants and cafeterias received a ‘B-‘ for providing greater availability and variety in fruit and vegetable choices on menus. Supermarkets and fruit and vegetable suppliers received a ‘C’ grade for some progress over the past five years at making fruits and vegetables more accessible and convenient.

A ‘D’ grade was given on the alignment of agricultural policy and research with nutrition policy. Last, a failing grade was once again assigned to the food marketing category given its continued low level of fruit and vegetable marketing (<1%) relative to all food marketing.

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