A new study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that most Americans don’t eat enough vegetables or fruit. Only only 9% eat enough vegetables and only 12% of eat enough fruit. We’re missing fantastic food and an easy way to feel great and live longer.
The study says:
Adults should consume 1.5–2.0 cup equivalents of fruits and 2.0–3.0 cups of vegetables per day.
Those goals seem downright normal to me, especially now. I’m on the last day of the Wildly Healthy Harvest Tune-Up, where we are eating 12 servings of fruit and vegetables a day, about 6 cups total. I’ll tone it down to 10 servings in future events, but that still puts us at the top of the CDC’s range and below Dr. Greger’s recommendations in How Not to Die. Note that the study excludes fried potatoes and fruit juice.
Results by State and Age
The report shows the result by state. Only 10% of my fellow North Carolinians eat enough fruit and only 8% eat enough vegetables. West Virginia comes in at the bottom with just over 7% for fruit and just under 6% for vegetables. On the bright side, 15% of the people in the District of Columbia eat enough fruit. Despite the cold, Alaskans are the top vegetable eaters at 12%. In 41 states, young adults ate a significantly lower amount of vegetables than older adults did.
Danger: Disease and Misery Ahead
Lead author Seung Hee Lee Kwan, Ph.D. says:
This report highlights that very few Americans eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables every day, putting them at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease. As a result, we’re missing out on the essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber that fruits and vegetables provide.
The CDC notes that seven of the top 10 leading causes of death in the United States are from chronic diseases. Eating lots of fruits and vegetables every day can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.
The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables (pdf) discusses ten strategies for getting us to eat our vegetables, including:
- Farm-to-fork programs in schools, hospitals, and workplaces
- Making it easier to buy high-quality fruits and vegetables
- Offering fruits and vegetables in cafeterias and other food service venues
I’m working on a proposal to my city of Raleigh for our comprehensive plan to offer plant-powered options at all city events where food is served. It will be good for the citizens’ health and for good our city budget. It might even inspire folks to eat more produce on their own.
Is there a barrier that keeps you from eating enough fruit and vegetables? Time, money, availability, taste? What might help you and others? Please share your thoughts in the comments.