Sunday, September 26, 2010

Nutrition News

"Despite two decades of public health initiatives, stricter government dietary guidelines, record growth of farmers’ markets and the ease of products like salad in a bag, Americans still aren’t eating enough vegetables." So says the New York Times -- Told to Eat Its Vegetables, America Orders Fries.

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..."
  1. "...drink fruit juices such as orange, grapefruit, or tomato?"
  2. "Not counting juice, how often do you eat fruit?"
  3. " green salad?"
  4. " potatoes, not including French fries, fried potatoes, or potato chips?"
  5. " carrots?"
  6. "Not counting carrots, potatoes, or salad, how many servings of vegetables do you usually eat?"
The article is a summary of these results for 2009 with a comparison to prior years. Only slight changes have been detected: "From 2000 to 2009, the overall prevalence of consuming fruit two or more times per day decreased slightly, but significantly, from 34.4% to 32.5%. Slight but significant increasing linear trends for fruit consumption were observed in four states, decreasing trends in 22 states and DC, and no significant change in 24 states."

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.

1 comment:

Jeanie said...

I am pleased to say I eat LOTS of those! (Part of it is Weight Watchers; part is they're just so darned delicious! Especially at this time of year!)