Children under the age of 5 aren’t getting nearly enough fruits and vegetables, says a new CDC report – Orange County Register

Children under the age of 5 in the US are missing out on essential nutrition because they drink sugary beverages and avoid fruits and vegetables, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The researchers surveyed the parents of more than 18,000 children aged 1 to 5 in 2021 and asked them how often the child ate fruits, vegetables and sugar-sweetened drinks in the previous week.

The findings were published Thursday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Parents reported that almost half of the children did not eat vegetables every day and about a third did not eat fruit every day.

More than half of the children – 57% – drank at least one sugar-sweetened beverage that week.

The researchers found that a 1-year-old child was more likely to eat fruit or vegetables every day and less likely to have a sugary drink than the older children in this age group.

But the results varied by state, according to Heather Hamner, senior author of the study and chief health officer at the CDC.

“This is the first time we have state-level estimates of this behavior,” Hamner said. “It really is a good time to start thinking about the programs and policies that states have and areas where they can continue to work and improve to make the feeding environment for our young children the best it can be.”

State by state check out the survey

More than half of children in 40 states plus Washington, DC, had drunk a sugar-sweetened beverage in the previous week, the report said. Mississippi had the highest rate of children drinking at least one sugar-sweetened beverage in the previous week at nearly 80%, while Maine reported the lowest rate of sugar-sweetened beverages: 38.6%.

Regarding vegetables, the report also found that more than half of children in 20 states have not eaten a vegetable every day in the past week.

Parents in Louisiana reported that nearly 3 out of 5 children did not eat their daily vegetables. There was a similar finding for fruit, with nearly half of Louisiana children not eating a fruit every day.

Vermont reported the highest fruit and vegetable consumption among children ages 1 to 5 years.

The effects of nutritional insufficiency

The report finds gaps in vegetable and fruit consumption that are related to race and household food supply.

Parents of black children were the most likely to report that their children did not eat any daily vegetables or fruit, while parents of white children were the least likely to do so.

According to the report, about 70% of parents of black children said their child had drunk a sugar-sweetened beverage at least once in the past week.

“Compared to children living in households with an adequate diet, children in households with little or no nutrition were less likely to eat fruit or vegetables daily and were more likely to consume sugar-sweetened beverages in the previous week,” the report says.

Increasing revenue

Young children need specific nutrients from a diet rich in fruits and vegetables to support their development.

Children ages 2 or 3 should consume at least one cup of fruit and one cup of vegetables each day, while children ages 4 to 8 should consume 1.5 cups of them each day, according to CDC and USDA.

“Limiting or reducing foods and beverages with higher added sugars, including sugar-sweetened beverages, is important because added sugars are associated with an increased risk of obesity, dental caries, diabetes and cardiovascular disease,” the report said.

The key to increasing food and vegetable intake in children under the age of 5 lies in the hands of their parents, Hamner said.

“We’ve found that it can take up to 10 times for a child to try a new food before they like it,” she said. “It’s an important step to continue trying to expose young children to a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.”

Offering different tastes and textures of food can also be helpful so kids can increase their intake and better understand what they prefer.

Parents should not feel tied to fresh fruit and vegetables either. Frozen and canned options are great ways to incorporate nutrients into any meal.

Adding these essential vitamins and creating a strong nutritional foundation for your child will also have a lasting effect.

“One of the really important things is this early eating behavior,” Hamner said. “This is really when kids are laying the groundwork for some of these eating habits. So start strong and make sure they develop these healthy behaviors…that will set them up as they progress through puberty and into adulthood.” Children under the age of 5 aren’t getting nearly enough fruits and vegetables, says a new CDC report – Orange County Register

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