Your Health

Americans Are Flunking Easy Goals For Healthier Eating

Fruits piled high in a market
iStockphoto.com

Is it so hard to eat fruit at least twice a day and vegetables three times or more?

Evidently, yes.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention surveyed hundreds of thousands of people to see how Americans were doing on some remarkably modest goals for better eating.

The findings? When it comes to fruit, we're actually eating less than we did in 2000. Vegetable consumption is flat. The results appear in the latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The public health plan hatched a decade ago was to get three-quarters of Americans older than 2 to chow down on at least two servings of fruit a day and half of Americans to eat three or more servings of vegetables.

The results for 2009 show that only 32.5 percent of adults are hitting the mark for fruit and barely more than a quarter — 26.3 percent — are getting the job done on vegetables. Dig deeper, and the data show that not a single state has hit the targets.

Best of a bad bunch: The District of Columbia, where 40.2 percent of people met the fruit goal in 2009, but, unfortunately, that was down 5.5 percentage from 2000. Tennessee is tops for fruit, with 33 percent of folks meeting the three-a-day goal.

Do we have to remind you of the health benefits of better eating, including more fruit and vegetables? Probably not. But the folks behind Healthy People 2010 zeroed in on improving nutrition to combat chronic disease and obesity, which everyone agrees are big problems.

To put a point on it, meeting these modest goals could really do you some good. A 2004 study found that eating five servings of fruits and vegetables a day is associated with a 28 percent lower risk of heart disease and stroke, compared to people who eat fewer than 1.5 servings a day.

The data on fruits and veggies for cancer prevention are a little murkier. But, like Mom always said, "Would it kill you to try the broccoli?" No, probably not.

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