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Despite government-funded health campaigns promoting healthier eating, Americans still eat shockingly low amounts of fruits and vegetables. According to a state-by-state survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 1 in 10 American adults meets federal fruit or vegetable recommendations—at least 1½–2 cups per day of fruit and 2–3 cups of vegetables.

The number crunching showed that intakes were lowest among men, young adults and those living in poverty. The ramifications of such low intakes are many. When people eat very few fruits and vegetables, they’re likely to be getting a large portion of their calories from processed foods or meats that lack the health-hiking fiber, vitamins and minerals in the produce aisle.

Yet, eating enough fruits and vegetables is one of the simplest steps people can take to
reduce their risk for a range of chronic maladies. In fact, a 2017 International Journal of Epidemiology study suggests that between 5.6 and 7.8 million premature deaths worldwide may be attributable to fruit and vegetable intakes below 500 and 800 g a day, respectively.

What are some of the barriers that keep people from eating more fruits and vegetables?
Do you actively encourage your clients to eat more servings per day? How do you work extra servings into your daily routine? Send your responses to Sandy Todd Webster at
[email protected].

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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November-December 2020 IDEA Fitness Journal

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