All this week we have been looking at ways to confront the worsening obesity epidemic in the United States by focusing on its prevention. What’s clear is that once a child becomes obese (BMI = 95th percentile and greater), it is very difficult to treat them to reverse the trend and drive down their BMI.
One recurring theme to getting children to become healthy eaters is serving more fruits and vegetables. If parents want their kids to eat real (not processed and packaged) foods, then they need to set a good example and serve (and eat) them regularly. But, as Rachael Rettner discovered, a new study from the CDC finds that adults aren’t doing very well:
…87 percent of Americans don’t meet recommendations for fruit consumption, and 91 percent don’t meet recommendations for vegetable consumption, according to a new U.S. report.
That’s right. Only 13% of adults met the U.S. federal guidelines of eating 1.5 to 2 cups of fruit per day and only 9% reported eating the recommended 2-3 cups of vegetables per day. Among states, California did the best in fruit and vegetable consumption; Tennessee did the worst for fruits and Mississippi did the worst for vegetables. Do you know what state did better than Pennsylvania in both categories? Alaska!
Rettner says the researchers have concluded what now should be obvious to all of us:
To improve fruit and vegetable intake in adults, public health efforts might start with children, who also don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. “Better dietary practices earlier in life might lead to better practices later in life,” the researchers said. Schools could help with this effort by meeting or exceeding federal nutrition standards for their meals, and making fruit and vegetables more appealing to kids.
In addition, making fruits and vegetables available at work gatherings, such as meetings and conferences, might also improve intake.
“Increased attention to food environments in multiple settings, including child care, schools, communities and worksites, might help improve fruit and vegetable intake, and thus help prevent chronic disease,” the researchers said.
No discussion of obesity prevention would be complete without examining the vital role of daily physical activity and exercise. We’ve covered that topic here on The PediaBlog before, and I’m sure we’ll cover it again soon.