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Experts Revise Fruit and Vegetable Campaign

CancerWise - June 2007

By Darcy De Leon

How many servings of fruit and vegetables should a person eat each day?

For the last 15 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people eat at least five servings of fruit and vegetables a day to stay healthy and help prevent diseases like cancer. In recent years, the number has increased to nine a day for men.

Now, the 5-A-Day program is being replaced by the new Fruits & Veggies-More Matters™ campaign. The initiative recommends that people eat more fruit and vegetables by determining individual caloric needs based on age, gender and activity level. The campaign also focuses on eating a wide variety of those foods.

Website gives public specific tips, tools

To help people increase consumption of fruits and vegetables, the CDC and other health organizations involved in the effort have created a new website.

The Fruit & Veggies-More Matters website offers:

  • Charts that estimate fruit and vegetable needs per person
  • Tips on how to include fruit and vegetables in a daily diet
  • A list of fruit and vegetables available by season
  • Tools to get kids involved:
    • Coloring books
    • Grocery store scavenger hunt sheets
  • Shopping-list templates
  • Charts to track fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Recipes

Why more matters

The change to the new campaign was designed to personalize fruit and vegetable consumption for consumers and to give them the tools they need to do a better job of meeting their goals, says Nicki Lowenstein, manager of M. D. Anderson’s Department of Clinical Nutrition.

“Five-A-Day was too broad a recommendation,” she says. “It didn’t educate people about the ‘what’s-in-it-for-me’ aspects of produce consumption, nor did it address the ‘how to.’ “

For example, the average American eats about 15 grams of fiber per day. But the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine has recommended a daily intake of 38 grams for men and 25 grams for women who are 50 years old and younger. The recommended levels for men and women older than 50 are 30 and 21 grams, respectively, she says.

“Five-a-day is not that much, especially when you take into consideration portion size,” says Lowenstein, who has reviewed national nutritional recommendations. “You really want two-thirds to three-fourths of your plate to be plant-based food and not processed plant food. The new guidelines give that additional information.

“Another reason Fruits and Vegetables Matters is so great is because it doesn’t limit people. Rather, it encourages them to eat more, especially fruit and vegetables that are in season each month. That will help people buy food that is more available, more accessible and more cost effective.”

– From staff reports


Department of Clinical Nutrition (M. D. Anderson)

© 2015 The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center