Background: Previous research indicates that few Americans meet the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) guidelines for fruit and vegetable consumption, and that adequate fruit and vegetable consumption may decrease the risk for chronic disease.
Methods: Twenty-four-hour dietary recall data from NHANES III, 1988-1994 (n=14,997) and NHANES 1999-2002 (n=8910) were used to assess adult (equal to or more than 18 years) trends in daily fruit and vegetable consumption (number of servings and types).
Results: In 1988-1994, an estimated 27% of adults met the USDA guidelines for fruit (equal to or more than two servings) and 35% met the guidelines for vegetables (equal to or more than three servings). In 1999-2002, 28% and 32% of adults met fruit and vegetable guidelines, respectively. There was a significant decrease in vegetable consumption over time (p=0.026). Only 11% met USDA guidelines for both fruits and vegetables in 1988-1994 and 1999-2002, indicating no change in consumption (p=0.963). In both data sets, non-Hispanic blacks were less likely to meet USDA guidelines compared to non-Hispanic whites (p<0.05). Higher income and greater education were significantly associated with meeting the guidelines in both data sets (p<0.05).
Conclusions: Despite the initiation of a national fruit and vegetable campaign in 1991, the findings indicated that Americans' fruit and vegetable consumption did not increase in 1999-2002, and only a small proportion met the related dietary recommendations. Greater public health efforts and approaches are needed to promote healthy eating in the United States.