Americans should consume more fruits, veggies

Mothers who are concerned for health and safety of their children always give great advice. One will often hear, “look both ways before crossing the street” or “keep both hands on the steering wheel.” While the effects of not listening to mother in those situations could cause immediate danger, other pieces of wisdom affect long-term health, such as eating vegetables and fruits. According to health officials, fewer than a third of Americans eat the government-recommended two servings of fruits and three servings of vegetables.

The government has set a goal to get 75 percent of Americans to eat fruits and 50 percent of Americans to eat veggies by 2010. The numbers, however, have remained stagnant for more than a decade, showing no improvement in American eating habits. According to the federal diet surveys, the age group that consumed the least amounts of the green stuff were young adults in the 18 to 24 demographic. Senior citizens, however, ate the most fruits and vegetables of any age group. If the government wants to encourage the general population to reach the goal, it should target young adults.

Tackling the problem in the young adults demographic will pave the way for younger age groups and children of the future. The government can catch the attention of young adults by offering more information, sponsoring more programs and creating an advertising campaign geared toward that age group. The government, however, can only do so much as the issue is more than a national problem; it is a local problem as well. Since education is probably the best way to get the point across to young adults, nutritional sciences should be encouraged more in high school and college.

High schools and colleges can do more by adding healthier food options as a part of their dining services. Drink machines should include healthier options such as fruit juice.

Many fast food chains should work on this problem as well. A number of places already offer salads, but more of a variety from their side items should be included on the menu such as fruit salad, carrots and celery or steamed vegetables. As these companies improve their menus, the intake of healthy fruits and vegetables will also increase since these sides can be served in the same amount of time as it takes to serve a large order of fries.

People make unhealthy choices for convenience purposes. One can find fruit cups or vegetable cups in The Main or Frog Bytes, which can serve as a great grab-and-go snack. The salad bar in The Main is a great way to create a salad based on individual tastes. Smoothies are also a tasty way to increase daily fruit intake.

Health officials want to look out for the well-being of Americans. Through the work of the government, schools, local establishments and fast-food companies, Americans can be well on their way to achieve health and longevity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that fruits and vegetables are not only low in fat and calories; they also prevent chronic diseases and cancer.

Hayley Freeman is a freshman English major from Fort Worth. Her regular column appears Wednesdays.