Is having three servings of
vegetables and two servings of fruit a day too much to ask for
better health? According to 2005
federal survey of 300,000 adults from all U.S.
states, it is. Consumption rate of fruit and vegetables hasn't
changed since 1994: only 27% of adults consume the above recommended
minimum of vegetables, and 33% of fruit (Times).
Seniors tend to take their health somewhat more seriously, with
34% and 46%, respectively.
With a single serving varying from one food to another between ½ cup and a
cup, veggies and fruits seem to be a pitifully small portion in the
average American diet. Most of it still are either foods of animal origin, or processed
foods in general.
The survey didn't include questions about
for particular food choices but, chances are, it has most to do
with poor habits and ignorance. While we humans were surprisingly
late to realize how important is food in maintaining health, it doesn't quite explain
official half heartedness in
promoting even the very basic knowledge about it.
The society wants to make sure that you know how to park a car,
but when it comes to how good or bad for you is what you eat, you're
pretty much on your own.
With Americans being among the most disease stricken
developed nations, it obviously doesn't work well, but no one
seems to be too concerned. There's a lot of money to make off
both, health-related ignorance and
It starts early on, with formation of dietary habits
in children and teenagers. According to the Kaiser Family
Foundation's 2005 research, out of thousands targeted food
advertisements that an average American child/teenager see every
year, nearly all are for nutrient-depleted, calorie-rich processed and junk foods (New
It is no wonder that the
childhood obesity rate in the last 20 years
More specifically, it has
nearly tripled for the 2-5 years old (5% to 13.9%) and 6-11 years
old (6.5% to 18.8%), while more than tripled (5% to 17.4%) for 12-19
years old Americans (National
Center for Health Statistics). Of course, there are other
factors, such are sedentary leisure time (TV and games), snacks and
sugary drinks overindulgence, as well as eating alone as opposed to
having family meals.
These figures show that the general population, left on its own,
doesn't do well when it comes to making healthy dietary choices. And
that it is only becoming worse. Coordinated action is both, urgently needed
and long overdue. It has to start with the change of perception:
there is really no reason to treat health danger coming from unhealthy
foods and eating habits differently than those coming from alcohol,
narcotics or nicotine. It costs lives and money just the same.