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Teens still not eating enough fruits and vegetables

Relaxnews / November 29, 2011
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(Relaxnews) - American teenagers aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables each day, and that’s especially true of certain ethnic groups, says a new report.

Despite the slew of public health messages about proper nutrition, US teens continue to follow diets that are nutrient deficient, consuming fruits and vegetables an average of 1.2 times a day, says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in its latest Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published November 25.

That’s far below current food guidelines, which recommend that adolescent girls consume 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables daily. Teenage boys, meanwhile, should be consuming 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables a day. One cup is equal to roughly one medium apple, eight strawberries, 12 baby carrots or one large tomato.

And it’s not just American teens who are shunning these important food groups. A study in the UK this summer also found that British teens fare no better, with just one in 13 teenage girls eating their recommended intake.

The ratio rises slightly for boys, with one in eight consuming the recommended amounts. British food guidelines recommend that adolescents get five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. A portion in the UK is equal to about one medium-sized fruit like an apple, pear or orange.

Findings in the US study, meanwhile, were based on data from the 2010 National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study that polled 11,430 students between grades 9 and 12 (around ages 14-18).

As in the British study, analysts found that fruit and vegetable consumption was sightly higher among males than females.

Overall, about 30 percent of US high school students consumed fruit less than once a day. The same is true of vegetables, with 33 percent taking in leafy greens and carrots less than once daily.

Analysts also found that vegetable consumption is significantly lower among non-Hispanic black students, at a rate of 1.0 times daily, and Hispanic students, 1.1, compared to non-Hispanic white students, who ate veggies an average of 1.4 times daily.

To instill healthier eating habits in teens and important lifelong skills like cooking, experts recommend putting adolescents in the kitchen.

Cookbooks geared specifically to the young cook include Eat Fresh Food: Awesome Recipes for Teen Chefs, by Rozanne Gold and A Teen Guide to Quick, Healthy Snacks by Dana Meachen Rau.

http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6046a3.htm?s_cid=mm6046a3_w

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