Most Americans Still Skip Fruits and Vegetables

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Fruit and vegetable consumption increased significantly in only one state during the past decade, while all 50 states and the District of Columbia continued to fall far short of recommended daily intake, according to a study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Only Idaho had a significant increase in the proportion of residents who consumed at least two servings of fruit and at least three servings of vegetables daily during 2000 to 2009. However, the absolute increases were small -- 27.9 percent to 32.9 percent for fruits and 24.7 percent to 27.8 percent for vegetables.

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At the opposite end of the consumption spectrum, 10 states had small but statistically significant decreases in the proportion of residents who consumed the recommended number of servings of fruit and vegetables, investigators reported in the Sept. 10 issue of MMWR: Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Overall, about a third of American adults ate at least two servings of vegetables daily during 2009, and about a fourth consumed at least three servings of vegetables daily.

"The findings in this report indicate that 2009 overall and state-specific estimates of the proportions of U.S. adults consuming fruit two or more times per day or vegetables three or more times per day were far short of the targets set by Healthy People 2010," Kirsten A. Grimm and coinvestigators wrote in the discussion of their findings.

The Healthy People 2010 campaign builds on an initiative begun in 1979 by the Office of the Surgeon General to promote preventive care and healthy lifestyle behaviors. Among other objectives, Healthy People 2010 established targets of 75 percent for the proportion of Americans age 2 or older who consumed two or more servings of fruit and 50 percent for consumption of three or more servings of vegetables every day.

Americans Must Eat More Fruits, Vegetables, CDC Says

To examine states' progress toward the goals, investigators analyzed data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. The analysis covered trends from 2000 through 2009. The data showed that:

32.5 percent of Americans met the fruit-consumption goal in 2009;

26.3 percent met the vegetable-consumption goal;

The proportion of people who met the fruit goal decreased from 34.4 percent in 2000;

The proportion who met the vegetable goal remained virtually unchanged from 26.7 percent in 2000;

Four states had small increases in progress toward the fruit goal;

11 states had slight increases in progress toward the vegetable goal;

12 states rates of 35 percent to 45 percent for the fruit goal;

No state had as many as 35 percent residents who met the vegetable goal;

Oklahoma had the fewest residents who met the fruit goal in 2009 (18.1 percent);

South Dakota had the fewest residents who met the vegetable goal in 2009 (19.6 percent);

Washington, D.C. and California had the highest on-target fruit consumption (40.2 percent and 40.1 percent, respectively);

Tennessee had the highest on-target vegetable consumption (33.0 percent).

To facilitate progress toward the consumption targets, the authors called for intensified approaches to improve access, availability, and affordability of fruits and vegetables.

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