Home Original News Grade for fruit and vegetable intake for girls: F minus
Grade for fruit and vegetable intake for girls: F minus PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Roman Bystrianyk   
Thursday, 27 April 2006 00:00

Diets that are rich in fruits and vegetables have been shown to be very important in maintaining health. Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables has been shown to reduce heart disease risk, decrease the risk for certain cancers, improve life expectancy, and lower body mass index (BMI). 

A program called the Healthy People 2010 recommends at least 2 daily servings of fruits and 3 daily servings of vegetables with at least one serving being a dark green leafy or orange vegetable. 

The new USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) food pyramid now recommends more than five fruits and vegetables be eaten each day. A study in the March issue of Preventative Medicine, examined the diets of over 2,300 girls. The study authors used 3-day food diaries that were filled out over 6 annual visits beginning when the girls were ages 11 or 12. 

The study author’s found that very few girls meet these healthy food requirements. “At most visits, fewer than half of girls met the recommended daily intake of 2 or more servings of fruit on even 1 day, and fewer than 5% met the recommendation on all 3 days. Less than 10% of girls met the vegetable intake recommendations on even a single day.”

“Over 95% of black and white girls failed to meet the Healthy People 2010 recommendations for fruit and vegetable intake on even a single day.” 

Experts have warned that the increased availability of junk foods, fast foods, sweetened fruit drinks (which contain little fruit), and sodas, contribute to a replacement of fruits and vegetables in children’s diets. 

Even more distressing is that the study did not record cooking methods, so that the study was unable to examine how many girls counted French fries as a vegetable. Previous studies have found that the more common type of “vegetable” consumed by children are French fries. 

The authors conclude that, “our results that most healthy black and white adolescent girls failed to meet the Healthy People 2010 objectives for fruit and vegetable intake. To address this significant health issue, policymakers need to be proactive to support interventions that target children and their families directly as well as in institutions such as schools. Parents and caregivers of children need to be educated about the importance of fruits and nutrient-rich vegetables and ways to enhance their palatability and acceptability to children.” 

“School lunches contribute significantly to children’s fruit and vegetable consumption which underscores the importance of adequate funding for school lunch programs. As a component of a healthy diet, adequate and varied consumption of fruits and vegetables can favorably influence long-term health.”

Source: Preventative Medicine, March 2006


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