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Americans not eating enough fruits, veggies

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The U.S. government recently bumped up its recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption, and a new study suggests it's very likely Americans aren't keeping up.

The United States Department of Agriculture had long recommended that everyone get at least five servings of fruits and veggies daily, but adjusted that requirement to 2 to 6-1/2 cups of fruits and vegetables daily in its new MyPyramid food guide, Dr. Patricia Guenther of the USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion and colleagues note.

The guidelines specify recommended intake by age and sex, and spell out the variety of vegetables people should eat.

To investigate how many people were meeting the new standards -- and the old ones -- Guenther and her team looked at single-day food intake data for 8,070 people participating in the 1999-2000 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

They found just 40 percent were meeting then-current recommendations to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Girls aged 4 to 8 had the lowest intake, with just 10 percent meeting the requirements, while men aged 51 to 70 had the highest, with 60 percent eating at least five fruit and veggie servings daily.

The percentage of people meeting the new MyPyramid requirements ranged from 0.7 percent of boys aged 14 to 18, who are recommended to eat five cups of fruit and veggies daily, to 48 percent of children aged 2 to 3, whose recommendation is two cups.

"Nutrition and other health care professionals must help consumers realize that for everyone over age 3 years, the new recommendations for fruit and vegetable intakes are greater, and in many cases much greater, than the familiar five servings a day," Guenther and her colleagues conclude.

SOURCE: Journal of the American Dietetic Association,

Source Reuters