As any parent understands, getting teens to eat healthy—as in getting adequate servings of fruits and vegetables—is nothing short of a battle. Now, a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that the average amount of fruits and vegetables eaten by high school students is only 1.2 servings a day.
The report, published in a November issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, analyzed data from more than 10,000 high school students (grades 9 through 12) that participated in the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study 2010. The results showed that about one third (33.2 percent) of students ate less than one vegetable serving a day and more than a quarter (28.5 percent) ate less than one fruit serving a day.
A gender, age and ethnic disparity also exists when it comes to students’ fruit and vegetable consumption. Teenage boys were more likely to meet recommendations than teenage girls, younger teens more likely than older teens, and black and Hispanic students ate the lowest amount of vegetables.
The recommended number of servings of fruits and vegetables for teenagers ranges from 3 to 6, depending on the gender of the child and how much physical activity they get. According to the results of the study, however, less than 20 percent of students ate fruits and vegetables in line with recommendations.
“The infrequent fruit and vegetable consumption by high school students highlights the need for effective strategies to increase consumption,” the authors wrote.
So what’s a parent of a high-schooler to do? To start, the fight for teens to eat healthy should never be abandoned. Experts suggest exposing teens to as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible, and for parents to eat them too. Even though they are teenagers, they’re still impressionable.
Reference: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, Nov. 25, 2011