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Americans Skimping on Fruits, Veggies

Most U.S. Adults Not Getting Recommended 5 Daily Servings, Says CDC
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 15, 2007 -- Fewer than a third of U.S. adults eat enough fruits and vegetables, according to the CDC.

From coast to coast, no state (or Washington, D.C.) meets the CDC's goals for adult fruit and vegetable consumption.

People should eat at least five daily servings -- two or more servings of fruit, and three or more servings of vegetables -- as part of a balanced diet, says the CDC.

But today the agency reported that in 2005, fewer than 33% of U.S. adults reported eating at least two daily servings of fruit and barely 27% claimed to eat three or more daily servings of vegetables.

The government wants at least 75% of people age 2 and older to meet the fruit consumption goal, and at least 50% to meet the vegetable consumption goal, by 2010.

America has a long way to go to reach those goals.

Fruit and Vegetable Diet Report Card

In calculating compliance, fruit juices counted, but french fries, fried potatoes, and potato chips didn’t.

Those most likely to eat vegetables three or more times a day included women, college graduates, people earning at least $50,000 annually, whites, and people 65 and older.

The report is based on data from a 2005 national survey of U.S. civilians 18 and older. The results appear in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

What About Kids, Teens?

The report only includes adults. But children and teens likely also have room for improvement in their fruit and vegetable consumption.

Though the CDC says it's too soon to update its estimates for fruit and vegetable intake for all Americans aged 2 and older, CDC data through 2002 shows that those 2 and over average 1.6 fruit servings and 3.2 vegetable servings per day.

Average daily fruit consumption was the same in 1994-1996 as in 1999-2002, but average daily vegetable consumption dipped by 0.2 servings between those two periods, according to the CDC.

Serving Size

Ready to step up your servings of fruits and vegetables? Here's a quick guide to serving size.

Half a cup of fruits or vegetables counts as one serving.

One serving of fruit equals:

  • 1 medium-sized piece of fruit
  • Half a grapefruit
  • A quarter of a small cantaloupe
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup of berries
  • A dozen grapes
  • 3/4 cup of 100% fruit juice

One serving of vegetables equals:

  • 1/2 cup of chopped vegetables
  • 1 cup of raw, leafy vegetables (a small salad)
  • 6-8 carrot sticks that are 3 inches long
  • 1 medium potato
  • 1/2 cup of beans or peas
  • 3/4 cup of vegetable juice

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