News article

Children: Fruit, Vegetable Intake Still Too Low; Human Nutritionist Says To Focus On Lunch

Posted:  Tuesday, August 26, 2014

To lower the risks of health problems, it is necessary that children eat healthy food. It is during childhood years, that the required growth and development takes place. So we need to provide healthy food for kids. A healthy lunch for kids must be loaded with essential foods that supply energy, proteins, vitamins and minerals.

Studies show children between the ages of 2 and 18 are eating more whole fruits and drinking less fruit juice, a new report finds after the implementation of a new program. However, vegetable intake remains the same, they say. One expert says the switch from fruit juice to whole fruit has been a big improvement.

Parents need to incorporate the idea of eating fruits and vegetables to kids as making balanced choices are not instinctive. Fruits and vegetables for kids should form the part of their daily diet. There is a need to increase the intake for healthy growth.

A new report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention finds that children between the ages of 2 and 18 are eating more whole fruits and drinking less fruit juice, while vegetable intake remains the same. Sandy Procter, assistant professor of human nutrition and coordinator of the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program in the university's College of Human Ecology, says the switch from fruit juice to whole fruit is a big improvement.

"This is a really positive sign for that age group because that’s where we were seeing a lot of concern with overconsumption of fruit juice," Procter said. "There has been a real concerted effort to get the message out to well-meaning parents and caregivers that even though 100 percent fruit juice is very nutritious, it is very high in calories. When it is over-served to young children, it can cause diarrhoea and contribute to obesity."

Despite the improvement, most children and adults are not getting enough fruits and vegetables. According to the 2013 State Indicator Report on Fruits and Vegetables from the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, the average American eats one serving of fruit and 1.3 servings of vegetables per day. In Kansas, the percent of people who reported consuming fruit less than one time a day is 41 percent. For vegetables, 22 percent reported eating less than one serving of vegetables a day, with French fries included as a vegetable option.

"We talk about five servings a day being pretty easy to accomplish and while it may be easy, we are not getting there," Procter said. "I think as parents are preparing for back to school, it's important to realize that it's fairly simple to accomplish -- you just have to plan ahead."

Procter stresses lunch as the most important meal for fruit and vegetable consumption and says that if these nutritious components aren't included in lunch, it is very hard to reach the recommended five servings a day of fruits and vegetables. She also says improving dietary patterns in children will lead to healthier food habits later in life.