Families with kids have the worst habits when it comes to eating fruits and vegetables, according to new research from the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), Wilmington, Del. While most Americans realize that eating fruits and vegetables is important to a healthy diet, fruit and vegetable consumption is declining; obesity levels are on the rise, and for many consumers, fruits and vegetables are being replaced by high-calorie foods.

Just 13% of American families eat the recommended minimum of five daily servings, versus 22% of singles, 27% of empty nesters, and 39% of the elderly. Key findings include:

  • Single-parent and dual-income families with kids eat 10% fewer fruits and vegetables than families with a stay-at-home parent;
  • Women (82%) are more likely than men (69%) to fall short of the five-serving minimum;
  • Nine in 10 teen girls (89%) and 96% of kids ages 2-12 also fall short of the five-a-day minimum;
  • Fruit and vegetable consumption has declined nearly 14% over the past 10 years, from 874 annual servings per capita in 1992 to 754 in 2002;
  • Obesity levels are lowest among those who have high intakes of fruits and vegetables;
  • Overall, just one in five (20%) Americans meets the five-a-day minimum;
  • People who meet the five-a-day minimum eat three times more fruits and vegetables of every color variety.

In response to these findings, PBH is launching a national 5 A Day The Color Way campaign designed to motivate Americans to eat more fruits and vegetables every day. The campaign classifies fruit and vegetables into five color groups and encourages consumers to choose a variety every day from each color group: blue/purple, green, white, yellow/orange and red.