Title

Fruit and Vegetable Intake among Youth: A Public Health Concern

Location

Harborside Center

Strand #1

Mental & Physical Health

Relevance

This proposal is directly related to the HEALTH Strand, since optimal intake of fruits and vegetables (F/V) is linked with good health. Dietary guidelines recommend a balanced diet rich in plant-foods such as grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.

Brief Program Description

Fruits and vegetables (F/V) constitute an important part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These recommendations provide specific guidelines on serving sizes for children and young adults. The nutrients in F/V are essential for promoting health and preventing disease. This presentation will provide nutrition education for youth and their caregivers on how to increase intake of F/V, with practical tips on easy preparation of comfort foods that include substantial servings of these plant-foods.

Summary

In order to maintain good health, the Dietary Guidelines recommends that people over the age of two consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. However, most people do not meet these suggested servings. As per a CDC report, during the years 2007-2010, “60% of children aged 1–18 years did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Patterns fruit intake recommendations, and 93% did not meet vegetable recommendations”. These figures are alarming since F/V are linked to reduced risk of stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and hypertension. F/V provide phytonutrients and fiber, and contain high amounts of potassium, which is an essential nutrient known for its cardio-protective properties.

Childhood is the age when caregivers should encourage healthy dietary behaviors. Most food habits are developed during these formative years and carry through adulthood. If children eat poor quality foods that are high in sugar and fat and do not develop a liking for produce, then most probably they end up eating high-calorie low-nutrient foods when they are old too. It is vital that school curriculum includes nutrition education lessons that are imparted on a regular basis.

Teaching children and adolescents to eat healthy is a major public health challenge today. The Healthy People 2020 objectives call for increased consumption of both fruits and vegetables by youth and adults. It will take a concerted effort by parents, caregivers, school administration, and community agencies to accomplish these objectives. However, current statistics on overweight and obesity mandate immediate action if any strides are to be made in combatting chronic diseases among youth.

Evidence

In a 2003-2010 CDC analysis of 24-hour dietary recalls to estimate children’s fruit and vegetable intake, it was found that children had a very low intake of both. Children are getting their fruit intake by consuming fruit juices that are high in simple sugars, rather than from whole fruits. Vegetable intake seems to come from white potatoes, eaten as either fried or as potato chips. These results indicate that dietary habits of children are sorely lacking when it comes to variety and balance. Promotion of healthy diets among youth today remains a priority among existing public health initiatives and is gaining momentum.

Format

Poster Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Padmini Shankar, PhD, RD., is a Professor of Nutrition and Food Science at Georgia Southern University and a registered dietitian.

Dr. Ahuja, PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Lincoln University in Missouri.

Keyword Descriptors

fruit intake, vegetable intake, children, youth, chronic diseases, dietary behaviors

Presentation Year

2016

Start Date

3-8-2016 4:00 PM

End Date

3-8-2016 5:30 PM

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Mar 8th, 4:00 PM Mar 8th, 5:30 PM

Fruit and Vegetable Intake among Youth: A Public Health Concern

Harborside Center

Fruits and vegetables (F/V) constitute an important part of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. These recommendations provide specific guidelines on serving sizes for children and young adults. The nutrients in F/V are essential for promoting health and preventing disease. This presentation will provide nutrition education for youth and their caregivers on how to increase intake of F/V, with practical tips on easy preparation of comfort foods that include substantial servings of these plant-foods.