A third of high school students do not eat vegetables each day and more than a fourth do not always have a daily serving of fruit, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Wednesday in a report highlighting the need for healthier school lunches.
“Our basic findings are that fruit and vegetable consumption among high school students is low,” said Sonia A. Kim, a CDC epidemiologist and one of the authors of the study. “There’s more that schools and communities can do to encourage consumption.”
Black and Hispanic students ate the least amount of vegetables, according to the report, which is based on data from the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study.
Overall, only 16.8 percent of teens ate fruit more than four times a day and even fewer, 11.2 percent, ate vegetables that often, the report said.
Fruits and vegetables can reduce chronic diseases and some cancers and help teens manage their weight, the CDC said.
CDC guidelines for adolescents who exercise less than 30 minutes a day are for females to eat 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily and for males to eat two cups of fruit and three cups of vegetables. A cup is the equivalent of one medium-sized apple or eight strawberries, the CDC said.
Why eat MORE fruits and veggies?
Top 10 Reasons to Eat MORE Fruits & Vegetables
Reason 10: Color & Texture. Fruits and veggies add color, texture … and appeal … to your plate.
Reason 9: Convenience. Fruits and veggies are nutritious in any form – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice, so they’re ready when you are!
Reason 8: Fiber. Fruits and veggies provide fiber that helps fill you up and keeps your digestive
Reason 7: Low in Calories. Fruits and veggies are naturally low in calories.
Reason 6: May Reduce Disease Risk. Eating plenty of fruits and veggies may help reduce the risk of many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, and some cancers.
Reason 5: Vitamins & Minerals. Fruits and veggies are rich in vitamins and minerals that help you feel
healthy and energized.
Reason 4: Variety. Fruits and veggies are available in an almost infinite variety…there’s always
something new to try!
Reason 3: Quick, Natural Snack. Fruits and veggies are nature’s treat and easy to grab for a snack.
Reason 2 Fun to Eat! Some crunch, some squirt, some you peel … some you don’t, and some grow
right in your own backyard!
Reason 1: Fruits & Veggies are Nutritious AND Delicious!
The study did not examine the reasons why high school students do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but it recommends increasing the availability of healthier foods.
The CDC participates in a program called “Let’s Move Salad Bars to Schools,” which has a goal of putting 6,000 salad bars in schools over the next three years.
“There is evidence that salad bars do increase fruit and vegetable consumption among children,” Kim told Reuters.
School and community gardening programs and farmer’s markets also encourage healthier eating, Kim said.
By David Beasley