by National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance
Posted: Monday, October 5, 2015 at 9:04AM EDT
Hockessin, Del. – A report card released today evaluates critical policies and programs impacting our food choices and their contributions to our nation’s health over the past ten years. Overall, the positive impact has been minimal despite proven scientific data continuously showing that a diet high in fruits and vegetables helps maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of several serious, chronic diseases that are the leading causes of death.
In 2005, the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) – led by the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – developed a National Action Plan, providing a new and comprehensive approach for improved public health through increased fruit and vegetable consumption. Ten years later, the Alliance has released a second Report Card to evaluate progress made by schools, restaurants, supermarkets, and federal and state governments in its 2015 National Action Plan (NAP).
Similar to the first Report Card released in 2010, the 2015 NAP Report Card utilizing survey data finds that the average American’s fruit and vegetable consumption remains far below recommended levels, with a 5% decline during the past five years. The decline is largely driven by a decrease in 100% juice consumption, especially at breakfast, and a decline in the dinner side dish for vegetables. There were differences in consumption by age, with positive increases in fruit consumption among all children and vegetable consumption among teens. In contrast, consumers over age 45, who typically eat the most fruits and vegetables, are trending downward in their consumption of both over time. Overall, only 4% of individuals achieve their recommended target for vegetables and only 8% achieve their recommended target for fruit in an average day.
The Report Card assigned an ‘A’ grade to schools, given the doubling of fruits and vegetables in school meals as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. An ‘A’ grade was also offered to the Healthy Incentive Pilot program that demonstrated strong positive results at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption among SNAP households, which helped justify the new USDA Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive (FINI) Program to test other methods of incentivizing SNAP participants to purchase fruits and vegetables. An ‘A’ grade was also offered, once again, to the WIC Fruit and Vegetable Vouchers program, which was introduced in 2009 as part of a special supplemental program for Women, Infants and Children.
Restaurants and cafeterias received a ‘B-‘ for providing greater availability and variety in fruit and vegetable choices on menus. Supermarkets and fruit and vegetable suppliers received a ‘C’ grade for some progress over the past five years at making fruits and vegetables more accessible and convenient. A ‘D’ grade was given on the alignment of agricultural policy and research with nutrition policy. Last, a failing grade was once again assigned to the food marketing category given its continued low level of fruit and vegetable marketing (<1%) relative to all food marketing.
“Resolving our public health crisis depends on the consistent success and efforts of the many stakeholders involved in America’s food choices and eating habits,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of PBH. “From both the private and public sectors, organizations across the spectrum have a vital role to play in making increased fruit and vegetable consumption a reality for all Americans.”
The overall objectives of the NAP remain the same and include a set of forward looking strategies that, when taken together, would begin to close the gap that exists between actual and recommended fruit and vegetable consumption in this country. The objectives include:
Increasing the accessibility and desirability of all forms of fruits and vegetables by making them tasty, attractive, convenient, affordable, plentiful, and easily available at all eating and snacking occasions;
Offering practical strategies to help increase an individuals’ ability to obtain and prepare meals and snacks rich in fruits and vegetables; and
Changing Americans’ attitudes and habits about including fruits and vegetables at every eating occasion.
For more information, read the 2015 National Action Plan Report Card.
Kristen Stevens, 302-235-2329 ext 312, firstname.lastname@example.org
Elizabeth Pivonka, 302-388-2206, email@example.com
About National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance
National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance (NFVA) is an alliance of public and private partners working collaboratively and synergistically to increase nationwide access to and demand for all forms of fruits and vegetables for improved public health. To learn more, visit www.NFVA.org.
Source: National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance