Fruit and vegetable intake in the US is in a dismal state.
According to the National Fruit and Vegetable Alliance, only 4% of Americans met their daily required consumption of vegetables.
In the Alliance’s recently released 2015 Report Card, kids’ consumption of vegetables gets a “D” grade, and the marketing of vegetables receives an “F”.
Average consumption of vegetables (which excluded french fries) declined by 6% during the past 5 years. Some of the contributing factors are thought to be a decline in families eating meals together and gaps in provision from federal and school-based programs.
What can you do to increase your fruit and vegetable intake?
- Make some of your meals meatless and plan your entrees around vegetables; good options include veggie stir-fries, veggie or bean burgers, and soups
- Cut up fruit as soon as you return from the market and store in individual containers or baggies for an easy on-the-go snack
- Eat more salad: include vegetables of a variety of colors and go easy on the dressing
- Bulk up your pasta sauces and casseroles by adding more vegetables; these add volume and vitamins without a lot of extra calories
- Snack on fresh cut veggies with low fat dip or dressing or grill veggie kabobs at cookouts.
For more information on the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance’s “National Action Plan Report Card”, click here.
There’s a bit of good news on the nutrition front, and that is the continued decline in US soda sales.
Recent Nielsen data from all channels including grocery, drug and convenience stores shows an 8.2% decline in the 4 weeks leading up to October 31, compared to the same period 1 year ago. Dollar sales are also on the decline, down 5.5% in that same 4 week period compared over 1 year.
Diet Pepsi has sen the most precipitous drop with an 11.4% decline in sales and 8.9% drop in dollar sales.
Soda is the low-hanging fruit, so to speak, in tackling overweight and obesity. It provides no nutritive value and contributes only sugar-fueled unnecessary calories to its drinkers’ diets.
But Americans’ intake of sugar-sweetened beverages doesn’t start and stop with soda. Other contributors of useless calories include energy drinks, vitamin waters and fruit drinks – and these category winners are also owned by the big soda companies.
When it comes to sippin’ smart, keep in mind the following tips:
- Water is sufficient for hydration for nearly every individual with a few exceptions (elite athletes, underweight individuals, those exercising in extreme conditions)
- If you consume dairy, stick to non-fat or low-fat (1%) milk products and avoid added sweeteners
- Energy drinks provide “energy” primarily through caffeine and amounts are rarely disclosed on the packaging
For a great read on the entirety of Big Soda, including unscrupulous marketing practices and its contributions to the current global obesity crisis, check out Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning) by esteemed nutrition author and educator Marion Nestle.