N° 79 | July 2013

Adults who are knowledgeable of the daily fruit and vegetable recommendation and are aware of the United States fruit and vegetable campaign eat more F&V

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that adults eat 7-13 servings of fruits and vegetables (F&V) daily to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and cancer1. Most American adults, however, consume less than this daily recommendation2. One possible factor that may be contributing to the low intake of F&V is lack of knowledge of the F&V recommendation. Research shows that adults are more likely to eat higher amounts of F&V if they know the daily F&V recommendation3,4.

A national panel survey of non-Hispanic White and African-Americans adults

We conducted a study to assess the knowledge of the F&V recommendation, awareness of the Fruits and Veggies—More Matters campaign (formerly known as 5 A Day for Better Health)5, and F&V intake among U.S. adults. Data was taken from a national sample of 3,021 non-Hispanic White and African-American adults that participated in the 2007 U.S. National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Food Attitudes and Behaviors (FAB) survey. Adults responded to questions that asked about knowledge of the F&V recommendation, as well as the name of the current national F&V campaign. Adults also completed an eight item F&V screener that asked about how often they consumed fruit, 100% fruit juice, green leafy vegetables/salads, non-fried potatoes, cooked dried beans, other vegetables, and tomato sauce, as well as the amounts consumed.

Few adults know the servings of F&V recommended and are aware of the current F&V campaign

The results, weighted to give U.S population estimates, showed that about one-third of adults (39%) said they consumed five or more servings of F&V per day. Six percent of adults correctly responded that the current F&V recommendation is for adults to consume 7-13 servings per day while 30% responded the recommendation was the former “5 A Day” recommendation to consume five or more servings of F&V per day. Two-percent correctly responded that the name of the current F&V campaign is Fruits and Veggies–More Matters, whereas more adults (29%) were aware of the former 5 A Day for Better Health campaign. Because few adults knew the 7-13 F&V recommendation, we used the 5 A Day recommendation, and regarded five or more daily servings of F&V as correct responses. Similarly, few adults were aware of the current Fruits and Veggies–More Matters campaign, therefore, we combined 5 A Day for Better Health and Fruits and Veggies– More Matters and regarded these responses as correct.

Knowledge of the F&V recommendation and awareness of the F&V campaign differ by adults’ characteristics

More women, Non-Hispanic Whites, adults with a college education, those residing in the western part of the U.S, and those with a child under the age of 18 years in their household responded correctly about the servings of FV recommended or adults to consume and the name of the F&V campaign. Additionally, more 35-54 year olds correctly responded that the recommendation for adults was to consume five or more servings of F&V per day, whereas more 18-34 year olds correctly responded that the F&V campaign was 5 A Day/Fruits and Veggies–More Matters.

Adults who know the F&V recommendation and are aware of the F&V campaign are more likely to eat more F&V

Fruit and vegetable intake was associated with knowledge of the F&V recommendation and awareness of the F&V campaign. Adults were more likely to consume five or more servings of F&V per day if they knew that the recommendation for adults is to consume five or more servings of F&V per day, and were aware of the 5 A Day/Fruits and Veggies – More Matters campaign.

Need to increase awareness of F&V campaign and recommendation to promote high intake of F&V

The Fruits and Veggies—More Matters campaign was launched in March 2007. This study was conducted about five months after the campaign was launched, which may not have been long enough to promote the campaign and increase its awareness among the general public. Nevertheless, a recent survey of mothers with children under 18 years of age indicates that awareness of the Fruits and Veggies — More Matters campaign is still very low, increasing from 12% of mothers being aware of the campaign in 2007, to 18% in 20105. The current study underscores the need to promote the current F&V campaign and recommendations widely, and target specific subgroups of the population that demonstrate low levels of awareness and knowledge, to ensure that adults meet their daily F&V requirement.

  1. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (USDHHS), U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed April 2, 2013.
  2. Grimm KA, Scanlon KS, Moore LC, Grummer-Strawn LM. State-specific trends inf fruit and vegetable consumption among adults—United States, 2000-2009. MMRW. 2010; 59: 1126-1130.
  3. WattersJL, Satia JA, Galanko JA. Associations of psychosocial factors with fruit and vegetable intake among African-Americans. Public Health Nutr. 2007; 10: 710-711.
  4. Wolf RL, Lepore SJ, Vandergrift JL, Wetmore-Arkader L, McGinty E, Pietrzak G, Yaroch AL. Knowledge, barriers, and stage of change as correlates of fruit and vegetable consumption among urban and mostly immigrant black men. J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 108: 1315-1322.
  5. Produce for Better Health Foundation. State of the plate: 2010 study on America’s consumption of fruits and vegetables, 2010. http://www.pbhfoundation.org. Accessed April 2, 2013.
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