Grown-Ups Don't Seem to Know What's Good for Them

April 6, 2007

ATLANTA -- The combined strategy of eating enough fruits and vegetables and getting enough physical exercise remains an elusive health goal for all Americans, irrespective of race, ethnicity, and gender, CDC researchers found.

ATLANTA, April 6 -- The combined strategy of eating enough fruits and vegetables and getting enough physical exercise remains an elusive health goal for Americans adults, irrespective of race, ethnicity, and gender, CDC researchers found.

National survey data showed that grown-ups are not eating enough fruits and vegetables or getting enough regular exercise, especially white men, non-Hispanic black women, and Hispanic women, reported Judy Kruger, Ph.D., and colleagues in the April 6 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

"Despite the specific racial/ethnic differences observed in this report, the prevalence of engaging in both behaviors is low among all racial/ethnic populations," MMWR editors wrote in an editorial note accompanying the study. "Thus, all populations should be targeted by interventions to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables and to increase regular physical activity."

They recommended tailoring interventions to specific populations "through strategies such as establishing programs in culturally relevant settings, promoting culturally appropriate foods and activities, and engaging members of the groups in development of interventions."

The authors looked at 2005 data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), a state-based, random-digit-dialed telephone survey of the non-institutionalized adult U.S. population.

A total of 317,301 participants were in the final study sample. For the self-report, survey respondents were asked to categorize their race and ethnicity as either non-Hispanic white, non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islanders, and multiracial/other.

Participants were asked "How often do you drink fruit juices such as orange, grapefruit, or tomato?" "Not counting juice, how often do you eat fruit?" "How often do you eat green salad?" "How often do you eat potatoes, not including French fries, fried potatoes, or potato chips?" "How often do you eat carrots?" and "Not counting carrots, potatoes, or salad, how many servings of vegetables do you usually eat?"

The respondents were also asked to report how often they engage in physical activities (exercise, yard work, house work, etc.) of moderate of vigorous intensity, and how long they engaged in the activities each time.

The authors found that the estimated prevalence of eating fruits and vegetables five or more times per day was lower for men than women. The 19.5%,prevalence of adequate fruit and vegetable consumption among white men was significantly lower compared with 25.1% for men of Pacific Island or Asian heritage, and 27.1% for men of multiracial or other backgrounds (P