Children: Fruit, vegetable intake still too low; focus on lunch!

Half Pepper Tomatokale-bunch-lg   “We talk about five servings a day being pretty easy to accomplish and while it may be easy, we are not getting there,” Procter said. “I think as parents are preparing for back to school, it’s important to realize that it’s fairly simple to accomplish — you just have to plan ahead.”

Procter emphasizes lunch as the most important meal for fruit and vegetable consumption and says that if these nutritious components aren’t included in lunch, it is very hard to reach the recommended five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. She also says improving dietary patterns in children will lead to healthier food habits later in life.

Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010, recommends that Americans aged 2+ years eat more fruits and vegetables to add important nutrients that are under consumed, reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and some cancers, and help manage weight. Most US residents, including children, consume too few fruits and vegetables. In 2007–2010, 60% of children aged 1–18 years did not meet US Department of Agriculture Food Patterns fruit intake recommendations, and 93% did not meet vegetable recommendations. Because of the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables and because childhood dietary patterns are associated with food patterns later in life, encouraging children to eat more fruits and vegetables is a public health priority.

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