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Americans Are Embarrassingly Bad at Eating Fruits and Vegetables. We Can Fix That

November 20, 2017, 10:07 PM UTC

Americans are failing spectacularly at eating their recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. In fact, just about one in ten Americans eat enough fruits and veggies per day, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). But public health experts have some ideas about ways to promote more healthy diets across the nation—and hopefully prevent conditions like diabetes and heart disease which are linked to poor nutrition and killing millions in the U.S.

The CDC says that a healthy diet consists of 1.5 to 2 cups of fruits and 2 to 3 cups of vegetables per day, though the exact amount varies based on age and sex. But adults in most U.S. states fail to meet this standard—and have failed to do so for decades now. But there are tangible social policies that could help shift this dynamic, according to the agency, by getting a wider range of healthy foods to people who have trouble accessing them.

“The [study’s] findings indicate a need 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,” wrote the authors.

The CDC cites several public health and community initiatives that could help address the issue, including: expanding farm-to-table food programs in institutional spaces such as schools, hospitals, and workplaces; combating the problem of “food deserts,” where available stores selling healthy foods like fruits and vegetables are rare; and generally ensuring there’s a focus on nutritious products in both private and public life.