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Only 1 in 10 Adults Get Enough Fruits or Vegetables

Men, younger adults, and people living in poverty get the fewest

Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help reduce the risk of many leading causes of illness and death, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, some cancers, and obesity. Despite these positive health benefits, few adults meet the recommendations

In a recent MMWR article, CDC researchers analyzed data from the 2015 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and found that the number of adults eating enough fruits and vegetables in 2015 remained very low. Only, 9 percent of adults met the intake recommendations for vegetables and 12 percent of adults met the recommendations for fruit. Results showed that consumption was lower among men, young adults, and adults living in poverty.

The study also found variations by state.  For example, adults meeting fruit or vegetable recommendations ranged from 6 percent in West Virginia to 16 percent in Washington DC.

Overall there were no significant differences between different race/ethnicity groups for meeting the vegetable recommendations. However, in ten states a significantly higher percentage of Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks met recommendations for fruit intake than did non-Hispanic whites.

Adults Meeting Recommendations, 2015
Fruits 12.2%
Vegetables 9.3%

Continued efforts are needed to identify and address barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption. Previous studies have found that high cost, limited availability and access, and perceived lack of cooking/preparation time can be barriers to fruit and vegetable consumption.
The CDC Guide to Strategies to Increase the Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables [PDF-2.06MB] suggests 10 strategies to increase access to fruits and vegetables, including these:

  • Start or expand farm-to-institution programs in childcare, schools, hospitals, workplaces, and other institutions.
  • Improve access to retail stores and markets that sell high quality fruits and vegetables.
  • Ensure access to fruits and vegetables in cafeterias and other food service venues in worksites, hospitals, and universities.

Time and money don’t have to be barriers to eating well. Visit USDA’s ChooseMyPlate to learn more about the small steps you can take to add more color to your plate. 

How much is enough?

The federal fruit and vegetable recommendations vary by age and sex:

Adult women need at least 1½ cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables each day

Adult men need at least 2 cups of fruit and 3½ cups of vegetables each day.

Learn more: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/

Learn more! Read the Science and Brief [290 KB, 2 Pages, 508] or listen to the podcast [03:58 minutes] associated with this MMWR.

Add more color to your plate!

  • Save time and money by chopping extra fruit or vegetables at one time and freezing the extra.
  • Choose frozen or canned fruits and vegetables at the store.
  • Most adults get their fruit at breakfast. Add more fruit to your diet by grabbing a small apple or banana as your afternoon snack.
  • Dinner time is when most adults eat their vegetables. Get more veggies in your diet by adding them to your lunch time sandwich, or packing carrot sticks or grape tomatoes as a snack.
  • Learn how to put your best fork forward and add more fruit and vegetables to your diet.
  • For more tips on convenient and affordable ways to eat a healthy diet, please visit choosemyplate.gov.

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