A recent report has some good news and some bad news. The good news: Kids are eating more fruit! The bad news: They still aren’t eating their veggies.
The August 2014 issue of Vital Signs from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that from 2003-2010, children ages 2-18 increased the amount of whole fruit eaten by 12 percent overall. This number includes all whole fruits, whether they were fresh, frozen, canned or dried, but does not include juice. In fact, the amount of juice consumed by children slightly decreased.
Yet even with this great progress, most children still don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. About 60 percent of children consume too few fruits and a whopping 93 percent consume too few vegetables.
The study found that children’s vegetable intake remained unchanged throughout the period analyzed.
“We were glad to see that whole fruit consumption had increased during the study period, but disappointed that vegetable intake did not change,” says Dr. Sonia Kim, lead author of the report.
There are various reasons that vegetables may not be doing so well in children’s diets. According to Dr. Kim, there is possible evidence to suggest that it may be easier to increase consumption of fruit more than vegetables due to a biological preference for fruits over vegetables. Possible ways to combat this preference include ensuring that vegetables served in lunchrooms are visually appealing (crisp, bright colors and not overcooked) and initiatives such as Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools.
Keeping this momentum going will require a group effort. “Childcare, schools, and school districts can support these efforts. Meeting and even exceeding the federal nutrition standards for meals and snacks is an important step,” says Dr. Kim. She notes that “Childcare and schools are uniquely positioned to impact children’s fruit and vegetable intake and help create healthy habits that can last a lifetime.”
The CDC report also suggests ways to encourage further progress, including providing nutrition education in schools and hands-on learning opportunities such as children growing and preparing their own fruits and vegetables.
You can read more about the report’s findings and check out the CDC’s suggestions on how to keep moving forward here.