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The need to increase college students' consumption of fruits and vegetables

The majority of Americans don't eat enough fruits and vegetables on a daily basis. And now new research is showing that college students also fail to meet national dietary guidelines.

An Oregon State University (OSU) study (subscription required), which involved 582 college students, found participants weren't even eating one serving of fruits and vegetables a day, despite national guidelines suggesting young adults eat about two to two-and-a-half cups of fruit and about two-and-a-half to three-and-a-half cups of vegetables daily. Booster Shots reports:

Overall women had better eating habits than men--they skipped fewer meals, were more apt to read food labels, ate fast food less frequently, and ate in the dining halls more often. They consumed less fiber than men, however.

Men ate more fat than women, although both sexes consumed more than 30% of their calories from fat, a no-no according to the American Dietetic Assn.

Even after considering the meals the students skipped, researchers found they were not even getting one serving of fruits and vegetables per day on average.

The results somewhat surprised researchers because the students surveyed in the study attended OSU, where healthy options are available in campus cafeterias. In a release, study author Bard Cardinal, PhD, said the findings underscored a need to teach children from an early age about nutrition and food preparation:

We are not teaching youth how to be self-sustaining, Home economics and nutrition classes have all but disappeared from our schools in the K-12 system. There is a fundamental lack of understanding on how to eat well in a very broad sense.

Implementing programs to teach youth about making healthier choices is a strategy that Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse and founder of the Edible Schoolyard program, and other researchers have advocated for in the past.

Previously: AICR offers tips to help college students (and the rest of us) stay healthy, Living near fast food restaurants influences California teens’ eating habits, British teens not getting enough fruits, veggies and School nutrition standards come into the 21st century
Photo by Stanford EdTech

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