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​Children eating more fruit, but fruit and vegetable intake still too low

Child care and schools can help children meet daily recommendations

Children in the U.S. ate 67% more whole fruit from 2003-2010, but the amount of vegetables they ate remained unchanged, according to the latest Vital Signs report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, from 2003-2010, children drank less juice, making whole fruit the main contributor of fruit to children’s diets, as recommended by experts. Though the findings about fruit are encouraging, children in the U.S. are still not eating the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables. About 60 million children in the U.S. attend child care or school where the food they eat and the nutrition education they receive can affect their health and lifelong food choices. This Vital Signs report highlights ways child care providers and schools can help increase the amount of fruit and vegetables children eat each day. Child care, schools, and school districts can:

  • Meet or exceed current federal nutrition standards for meals and snacks.
  • Serve fruit and vegetables whenever food is offered.
  • Train staff to make fruit and vegetables more appealing and accessible.
  • Provide nutrition education and hands-on learning opportunities, such as growing, tasting, and preparing fruit and vegetables.

CDC funds state and local public health departments to support healthier food environments in child care settings and schools. At home, parents can encourage children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, even if it takes many tries. They can also help their children eat more of these foods by modeling healthy eating habits, providing fruit and vegetables as snacks instead of less healthy items, and including their children when shopping for, growing, and preparing fruits and vegetables.

Graphics / Images

  • Photo: Young student enjoying a bowl of fruit.

    CDC Photo by: Mandie Mills

  • Photo: Young student holding up an apple.

    CDC Photo by: Mandie Mills

  • Infographic: The amount of whole fruit children ate increased by 67% from 2003 to 2010 but remained low.

    The amount of whole fruit children ate increased by 67% from 2003 to 2010 but remained low

  • Infographic: 9 in 10 children didn't eat enough vegetables in 2007-2010.

    9 in 10 children didn't eat enough vegetables in 2007-2010.

  • Infographic: The amount of fruit juice children drank descreased by nearly one-third from 2003 to 2010.

    The amount of fruit juice children drank descreased by nearly one-third from 2003 to 2010.

  • Infographic: Children, ages 2-18, are eating more fruits, but not more vegetables (2003 to 2010).

    Children, ages 2-18, are eating more fruits, but not more vegetables (2003 to 2010)
    Entire Infographic

  • Infographic: How much fruit and vegetables do children need daily?

    How much fruit and vegetables do children need daily?
    Entire Infographic

  • La cantidad de frutas entaras que los niños comieron aumentó un 67% del 2003 al 2010, pero siguió sendo baja.

    La cantidad de frutas entaras que los niños comieron aumentó un 67% del 2003 al 2010, pero siguió sendo baja.

  • 9 de cada 10 niños no cimieron suficinetes verduras entre el 2007 y el 2010.

    9 de cada 10 niños no cimieron suficinetes verduras entre el 2007 y el 2010.

  • La cantida de jugo de frutas que los niños deberion disminuyó en casi un tercio del 2003 al 2010.

    La cantida de jugo de frutas que los niños deberion disminuyó en casi un tercio del 2003 al 2010.

  • Los niños de 2 a 18 años estain comlendo más frutas pero no más verduras (2003 al 2010)

    Los niños de 2 a 18 años estain comlendo más frutas pero no más verduras (2003 al 2010)
    Ver infografía ampliada

  • ¿Qué cantidad de frutas y verduras necesitan diariamente los niños?

    ¿Qué cantidad de frutas y verduras necesitan diariamente los niños?
    Ver infografía ampliada

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

Ileana Arias, PhD

Biography

Photo: Ileana Arias, PhD

It’s great to learn that our children are eating more fruit and drinking less juice. Still, the amount of fruit and vegetables they eat is too low. National efforts like Let’s Move! and the updated school nutrition standards are designed to improve the way children eat in childcare and school. We must continue to build upon these efforts to help ensure that children have every opportunity for healthy eating everywhere.”

Ileana Arias, PhD - Principal Deputy Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Janet L. Collins, PhD

Biography

Photo: Janet L. Collins, PhD

Exposing children to fruits and vegetables in child care and at school can help shape their eating behavior beyond the classroom or cafeteria. Meeting and going beyond federal nutrition standards for meals and snacks is an important first step to do this. To support the standards, we also need to make sure children can learn about and try fruits and vegetables prepared in delicious, healthy ways throughout their day.

Janet L. Collins, PhD - Director, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity (DNPAO)National Center for Chronic Disease Preventionand Health Promotion

Sonia A. Kim, PhD

Biography

Photo: Sonia Kim, PhD

Child care and schools are uniquely positioned to impact children’s fruit and vegetable intake and help create healthy habits that can last a lifetime. With so many opportunities throughout the day to include fruit and vegetables – healthy breakfasts, eating from the salad bar at lunch, learning in the school garden – children are more likely to be interested in eating fruits and vegetables, even at home.

Sonia A. Kim, PhD - Epidemiologist, Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion

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