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Americans still lagging on fruits, vegetables

Don't eat enough servings, CDC says

ATLANTA -- Fewer than a third of American adults eat the amount of fruits and vegetables the government recommends, a trend that's remained steady for more than a decade, health officials said yesterday.

That's well below the government's goal of getting 75 percent of Americans to eat two servings of fruits and three of vegetables each day by 2010, said Dr. Larry Cohen of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The telephone survey of more than 305,000 adults in 2005 indicates the country is only about halfway toward meeting the goal three years from now.

"We're really concerned with the lack of success in meeting these national goals," said Cohen, who is in the CDC's nutrition and physical activity division.

The rate of fruit and vegetable consumption has remained unchanged since 1994.

Senior citizens were more likely to eat more veggies, with slightly more than a third consuming three or more servings each day. Younger adults, ages 18 to 24, ate the fewest vegetables. Nearly four-fifths of that age category scraped the veggies to the side of their plates -- if they had vegetables on the plate at all.

Likewise, seniors also ate the most fruit, with nearly 46 percent consuming two or more servings of fruit daily. People ages 35 to 44 ate fruit the least, with fewer than 28 percent consuming the recommended daily amount.

The federal agency said it doesn't know why people aren't eating more vegetables or fruits. Cohen said future surveys will ask people what other foods they are eating.

Susan Krause, a clinical dietitian at Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, said people are eating more refined sugars or choosing protein instead of fruits and vegetables.

"There's so much information out there and people get very confused," she said. "There's so many fabricated foods now and people are looking at convenience."

Not only do fruits and vegetables have fewer calories, they have minerals and fiber that help guard against disease, the CDC says.