Objectives: To identify the ways in which fruits and vegetables are consumed by children, to provide estimates of their intakes compared with recommendations, and to estimate the percentage of children meeting those recommendations.
Design: We examined 3 days of dietary data from respondents in the US Department of Agriculture's 1989-1991 Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals. All foods reported in the survey were disaggregated into their component ingredients; all fruit and vegetable ingredients were assigned specific weights to correspond with a serving as defined by current dietary guidance materials; and the number of servings of each fruit and vegetable was tallied.
Participants: A total of 3148 children and adolescents aged 2 to 18 years in the 48 conterminous United States.
Main outcome measures: Percentages of fruit and vegetable servings consumed in various forms, mean number of servings consumed per day, and percentage of persons meeting various recommendations by sex/age, race/ethnicity, and household income.
Results: Nearly one quarter of all vegetables consumed by children and adolescents were french fries. Their intakes of all fruits and of dark green and/or deep yellow vegetables were very low compared with recommendations. Only one in five children consumed five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
Conclusion: Pediatricians should encourage the consumption of fruits and vegetables, especially dark green and deep yellow vegetables, by children.