FRIDAY, Sept. 7, 2007 (HealthDay News) -- A new school year, a new chance to eat healthier every day: That's the idea behind the first National Fruits & Veggies More Matters Month, sponsored by a number of leading medical and cooking organizations.
Parents hungry for ideas on using fruits and vegetables in their family's diets can get tips from a newly launched Web tool titled Explore the World With Fruits and Vegetables, a resource guide from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
According to the CDC, 90 percent of Americans do not meet the daily recommendation for fruit and vegetable consumption, even though the data shows people are aware of the health benefits of eating their greens. Most people need to double the amount they eat now to meet the latest dietary guidelines.
The Produce for Better Health Foundation and the CDC are teaming up during the back-to-school season to increase awareness of the importance of eating produce. The effort is part of the Fruit & Veggies More Matters campaign. That effort was launched in March in partnership with The Culinary Institute of America, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and others.
The goal of the campaign is to encourage Americans to consume more fruits and vegetables in all forms -- cooked, fresh, frozen, canned, dried, and juiced. More than 23,000 supermarkets support the campaign, which is also mentioned on the produce packaging of more than 170 companies.
"Reaching children and their parents is critical if we are going to change the way people think about what they eat," Dr. William Dietz, director of CDC's Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, said in a prepared statement. "With obesity becoming a growing problem for children and adults alike, we need to instill healthy eating habits early on."
The CDC has developed a kit titled Explore the World With Fruits & Vegetables, aimed at helping teachers and others working with families move fruits and vegetables out of the produce aisle and onto the dinner table.
"Many people know the facts, but actually changing behavior is not easy," Dietz said. "Success will involve combining education with a number of initiatives including improved access to healthy food in neighborhoods; food industry efforts to provide healthy options; increased availability of fruits and vegetables in work sites, hospitals, and other community organizations; and media messages and marketing to counter-balance the focus on less nutritious options. All this together should lead to sweeping changes in healthy eating habits."
For tips on fruit and vegetable presentation, visit Fruits and Vegetables Matter.