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Today’s Teens Slacking on Fruit, Veggie Intak

etable intake that we haven’t been doing in the past,” Larson said.

Karen Glanz, Ph.D., said of the results, “I was surprised by the magnitude of the reduction in fruit and vegetable consumption. I wasn’t surprised that there would be a reduction because of the lifestyle of today’s teens.” Glanz, a professor and research scholar at the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University, was not associated with the study.

Glanz cited the increase over the last 10 to 15 years in the amount, variety and availability of processed and fast food as a major cause of the trend toward less healthy food choices among adolescents.

While both Larson and Glanz say there’s little research investigating exactly why adolescents might be choosing to eat fewer fruits and vegetables, they both agree that just educating teens about healthy food choices is not enough.

“Teaching adolescents that fruits and vegetables are healthy isn’t going to help — they already know that,” Glanz said.

“We need to address things going on in the environment, in the community or at home to help adolescents increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables,” Larson said.

Environmental interventions could include increasing the availability and palatability of fruit and vegetables at school, in restaurants, and at home and decreasing the availability of less healthy, highly palatable foods. And research shows that more frequent family meals can help adolescents eat more healthfully.

“Parental and family attitudes are very important,” Larson said.

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