by: David Gutierrez
(NaturalNews) Twenty years of government and public interest programs aimed at increasing US vegetable consumption have had no significant effect on the country's dietary habits, according to a comprehensive nationwide study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In the same month, the market research company NPD Group released its 25th annual Eating Patterns in America report. The report found that only 23 percent of meals consumed in the United States — less than a quarter — include a vegetable, even though "vegetable" was so loosely defined that a hamburger with lettuce on it would qualify. The number of dinners that include a salad actually fell from 22 percent to 17 percent between 1994 and 2010.
Yet these grim numbers come in a time where health advocates continually promote vegetable consumption and food companies market ever easier-to-prepare options such as pre-cut broccoli and pre-washed salads. Studies have found, however, that such convenience products are largely purchased by people who were already buying vegetables anyway.
Rather than simply telling people to eat more vegetables, health officials are now looking for ways to improve access to them, especially in poorer communities and among children.
"Poverty seems to be associated with less access to fresh fruits and vegetables, exercise, and health care," notes Gabriel Cousens in his book There Is a Cure for Diabetes.
There is a sign that these newer tactics might bear fruit: a recent study found that California children who participated in a school gardening program ate one and half more servings of vegetables per day than other children.