New CDC Report: Americans Are Still Not Eating Healthy Foods

Yesterday, a report was released by the United States government stating that the majority of Americans today do not eat the correct amounts of fruits and vegetables that are recommended to eat in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The report also found that not one single US State accomplished the national objectives concerning the consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Healthy People 2010

The Healthy People 2010 is a concept that promotes healthier eating and lifestyle choices for Americans. The program focuses on 28 specific areas. The Healthy People 2010 program attempts to build upon an assortment of ideas and schemes that have been pursued over the last two decades. A nationwide health agenda was established in the 1979 Surgeon General’s Report. The program was continued through the 1980 Promoting Health/Preventing Disease: Objectives for the Nation, and Healthy People 2000: National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives. These two later programs successfully created nationwide health objectives that served as the basis for the development of State and local community health plans.

To help the development process of such a health plan, the Healthy People Consortium was created. It existed of more than 350 national membership organizations as well as 250 State health, mental health, substance abuse, and environmental agencies. The jobs were to give meaning and advice to the Healthy People 2010 program. The Secretary’s Council on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2010 also provided leadership and advice in the development of national health objectives. The public can also have their say by posting comments at the Healthy People 2010 website.

The main goal of the program is to have 75% of all Americans regularly eating two or more servings of fruit daily and 50% of all American eating the recommended three or more servings of vegetables daily as well.

The CDC

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted surveys in which it was established that a mere 33% of American adults ate the recommended amount of fruits daily whilst only 27% ate the recommended daily amount of vegetables. These numbers decrease for high school students: 32% are eating the recommended amount of fruit whilst 13% are eating the recommended amount of vegetables.

The CDC issued a news release in which their director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity, Dr. William H. Dietz, stated:

“A diet high in fruits and vegetables is important for optimal child growth, maintaining a healthy weight, and prevention of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, all of which currently contribute to health care costs in the United States.”

The report, entitled the State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables, 2009, is the first of its kind to provide state by state data regarding each individual State’s consumption of fruits and vegetables both in the states schools and in the local communities. It is hoped that these figures would help boost both fruit and vegetable consumption.

“This report will help states determine what is taking place in their communities and schools and come up with ways to encourage people to eat more fruits and vegetables,” Dietz stated.

The Three Policies

The report focuses primarily on three major policy and environmental areas that are associated with the consumption of fruits and vegetables, mainly, a food support system, the availability of healthier food choices in schools across America, and healthier food retail.

Even though a child’s school can influence not only the child’s eating habits but also those of his/her parents, school staff members, and therefore the community-at-large, the CDC’s report only found 21% of all middle and high schools actually offered fruits and non-fried vegetables in vending machines, school stores and snack bars.

It is a known fact that a food store that stocks its shelves with high-quality fruits and vegetables can play a major role in the healthy food choices that local residents make. However, the report found only 8 states in which a policy regarding healthier food retail improvements actually existed. These polices can lead to an increase in the amount of grocery stores in areas that do not have a full-service grocery store, as well as increase availability of healthier foods in smaller grocery stores, whilst promoting healthier food options by providing information to consumers who frequent such grocery stores.

Organizations that take into consideration a State’s, and their local communities, access to fresh produce are called Food Policy Councils. These councils provide suggestions regarding policies and programs geared towards the availability of fresh produce in supermarkets and farm-to-school programs, as well as community vegetable and fruit gardens and even farmer’s markets. Only 59 local food policy councils exist throughout America, whilst 20 states have a state-level food policy council.

Photo Credit: tami.vroma

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