Children in the U.S. ate 67% more whole fruit from 2003-2010, but the amount of vegetables they ate remained unchanged, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, from 2003-2010, children drank less juice, making whole fruit the main contributor of fruit to children’s diets, as recommended by experts.
Though the findings about fruit are encouraging, children in the U.S. are still not eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, CDC officials said. About 60 million children in the U.S. attend child care or school where the food they eat and the nutrition education they receive can affect their health and lifelong food choices.
This Vital Signs report highlights ways child care providers and schools can help increase the amount of fruit and vegetables children eat each day. Child care, schools, and school districts can:
Meet or exceed current federal nutrition standards for meals and snacks.
Serve fruit and vegetables whenever food is offered.
Train staff to make fruit and vegetables more appealing and accessible.
Provide nutrition education and hands-on learning opportunities, such as growing, tasting, and preparing fruit and vegetables.
“It’s great to learn that our children are eating more fruit and drinking less juice. Still, the amount of fruit and vegetables they eat is too low,” said Ileana Arias, PhD, principal deputy director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “National efforts like Let’s Move! and the updated school nutrition standards are designed to improve the way children eat in childcare and school. We must continue to build upon these efforts to help ensure that children have every opportunity for healthy eating everywhere.”
CDC funds state and local public health departments to support healthier food environments in child care settings and schools. At home, parents can encourage children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, even if it takes many tries. They can also help their children eat more of these foods by modeling healthy eating habits, providing fruit and vegetables as snacks instead of less healthy items, and including their children when shopping for, growing, and preparing fruits and vegetables.
Published: Aug. 14, 2014 - Volume 13 - Issue 18