WEDNESDAY, Nov. 23, 2011 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. high school students still aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables, according to a new study by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.
The investigators analyzed data from nearly 10,800 students in grades nine through 12 who took part in the National Youth Physical Activity and Nutrition Study 2010, and found that median consumption was 1.2 times per day for both fruits and vegetables.
Median daily fruit consumption was much higher among males than females, and much higher among grade nine students than among students in grades 10 and 12.
Slightly more than one in four (28.5 percent) of the high school students ate fruit less than once a day, and 33.2 percent ate vegetables less than once a day. Only 16.8 percent of students ate fruit at least four times a day and only 11.2 percent ate vegetables at least four times a day, the study found.
Vegetable consumption was lowest among Hispanic and black students.
The researchers said their findings indicate that most high school students don't meet the daily fruit and vegetable recommendations for teens who do less than 30 minutes of physical activity a day: 1.5 cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables for females and 2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables for males.
Teens who get more physical activity need to eat even more fruits and vegetables, the researchers noted.
"The infrequent fruit and vegetable consumption by high school students highlights the need for effective strategies to increase consumption," the researchers wrote in the report published in the Nov. 25 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Potentially promising school and community-based strategies include policy and environmental approaches such as farm-to-school initiatives, school gardens, salad bars in schools, and farmers' markets. All of these programs seek to improve access to and availability of fruits and vegetables, the researchers explained.
The Nemours Foundation outlines how parents can encourage healthy eating among children.