~ 032007 Americans Still Don't Get It About Fruits and Vegetables

A report published in the April, 2007 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine concluded that although the Dietary Guidelines for Americans have recommended consuming two or more servings of fruit and three or more servings of vegetables per day since 1990, Americans still haven’t gotten the message concerning increasing fruit and vegetable intake. Diets high in fruit and vegetables are associated with a lower risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and some cancers.

For the current study, Tiffany L Gary, PhD and colleagues at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health analyzed data from 14,997 adult participants in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) from 1988 to 1994, and 8,910 participants from 1999 to 2002 to determine whether Americans had increased their fruit and vegetable intake. They found that not only was there no improvement in fruit consumption between the two time points examined, but there was a small decline in vegetable intake. One quarter of the subjects reported eating no vegetables on a daily basis, and 62 percent consumed no fruit daily. While only 28% met the USDA guidelines for fruit and 32% for vegetables, less than 11% met the guidelines for both.

"Low fruit and vegetable consumption with no indication of improvement between 1988 and 2002 as well as consumption disparities across ethnic, income, and educational groups should alarm public health officials and professionals,� the authors write. “With two thirds of the U.S. adult population overweight or obese, the implications of a diet low in fruits and vegetables are extensive. New strategies, in addition to the 5-A-Day Campaign, are necessary to help Americans make desirable behavioral changes to consume a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits and vegetables." In a commentary in the same issue of the journal, Linda C Nebeling, PhD, MD, RD, of the National Cancer Institute and her coauthors observed, "The majority of U.S. adults continue to consume fewer than five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Increases in public awareness of the importance of and recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption are yet to be accompanied by increased intake, demonstrating the need for a reinvigorated effort to promote fruit and vegetable consumption. On March 19, 2007 Fruits & Veggies--More Matters™ will be launched. This effort will build on the strong public-private partnership begun in 1991 by the 5-A-Day for Better Health Program."

Health Concern - Diabetes

One of the best defenses against mild to moderate type 2 diabetes and hyperinsulinemia is improved diet and exercise. Although the disease has a genetic component, many studies have shown that diet and exercise can prevent it (Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group 2002; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group 2003; Muniyappa R et al 2003; Diabetes Prevention Program Research Group 2000). One study also showed that while some medications delay the development of diabetes, diet and exercise work better. Just 30 minutes a day of moderate physical activity, coupled with a 5 to 10 percent reduction in body weight, produces a 58 percent reduction in the incidence of diabetes among people at risk (Sheard NF 2003). The American Diabetes Association recommends a diet high in fiber and unrefined carbohydrates and low in saturated fat (Sheard NF et al 2004).

The high-carbohydrate, high-plant-fiber (HCF) diet popularized by James Anderson, MD, has substantial support and validation in the scientific literature as the diet of choice in the treatment of diabetes (Anderson JW et al 2004; Hodge AM et al 2004). The HCF diet is high in cereal grains, legumes, and root vegetables and restricts simple sugar and fat intake. The caloric intake consists of 50 to 55 percent complex carbohydrates, 12 to 16 percent protein, and less than 30 percent fat, mostly unsaturated. The total fiber content is between 25 and 50 g daily. The HCF diet produces many positive metabolic effects, including the following: lowered postmeal hyperglycemia and delayed hypoglycemia; increased tissue sensitivity to insulin; reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and triglyceride levels and increased high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels; and progressive weight loss.


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