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90% of high schoolers lack proper diet

Associated Press / September 30, 2009

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ATLANTA - Less than 10 percent of US high school students are eating the combined recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables, a finding that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention called “poor’’ in a report yesterday.

The report, based on 2007 data, found that only 13 percent of US high school students get at least three servings of vegetables a day and just 32 percent get two servings of fruit. Less than 1 in 10 get enough of both combined.

Some states - including Arkansas and North Carolina - were significantly below those averages. But some New England states, particularly Vermont, were notably better.

The CDC said the report was the first to give such detailed information on adolescents’ fruit and vegetable consumption. The information comes from a national survey of about 100,000 high school students.

CDC officials said the findings indicate a disheartening gap between how people should be eating and what they’re actually doing in an era of rampant obesity.

Federal nutrition goals for 2010 call for at least 75 percent of Americans to eat two servings of fruit each day and at least 50 percent to eat three vegetable servings.

“This is a call for states, communities, schools, and families to support increased fruit and vegetable consumption,’’ said Heidi Blanck, a CDC senior scientist who worked on the report.

The CDC also released data on a survey of adults. It found fruit and vegetable consumption was basically unchanged from a similar survey in 2005: About 27 percent got at least three servings of vegetables a day, and 33 percent got two servings of fruit.

People who participated in the survey were asked, essentially, how many times a day they had fruit or vegetables. Fruit juice counted but pieces of fruit are considered preferable, because they’re more filling alternatives to fatty, processed snacks, Blanck said.

Vermont and other states that had higher rates of fruit and vegetable consumption also have more farmers markets per 100,000 people than the national average. And schools in those states were more likely to stock pieces of fruit in vending machines or at snack shops, Blanck said.

The report did not have numbers for every state. For 12 of the states, high schooler survey samples were not considered large enough to provide a statistically reliable number.

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