How did they know? I wanted to see the original article and learn how they concluded that Americans were eating too few servings of vegetables and fruit, and that consumption had scarcely changed despite many efforts. I had a terrible time finding the article from the minimal reference information in the Times. Finally I located "State-Specific Trends in Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Among Adults -- United States, 2000--2009" dated September 10, 2010, in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC study is a report of an annual survey attempting to learn if the CDC's published nutritional guidelines are being met throughout the country. Random phone dialers call people in every state and then ask them "How often do you..."
- "...drink fruit juices such as orange, grapefruit, or tomato?"
- "Not counting juice, how often do you eat fruit?"
- "...eat green salad?"
- "...eat potatoes, not including French fries, fried potatoes, or potato chips?"
- "...eat carrots?"
- "Not counting carrots, potatoes, or salad, how many servings of vegetables do you usually eat?"
Campaigns to encourage vegetable consumption, repackaging vegetables, and efforts to change children's views and habits have not moved the results of this survey. Note: the CDC goal is "increasing to 75% the proportion of persons aged ≥2 years who consume two or more servings of fruit daily and to 50% those who consume three or more servings of vegetables daily."
The article summarizes the various limitations to the conclusions, including the possibility that people without land lines have different consumption patterns and that people exaggerate their compliance with healthy norms. But there it is. I wish the Times would give references/links when they cite articles. But I can't fault their reporting.