Every week there is a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) called the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Another wording for this publication could be the Sickness and Death Weekly Report. This publication was begun in 1930 and its main job is to be a central publication for reporting to the nation what is being seen and reported by the individual state’s public health information. By seeing the report of diseases (AIDS, West Nile Virus, flu) or health conditions (diabetes, heart disease, addiction), recommendations can be made to prevent or treat the behaviors that cause these conditions.
Shockingly in mid-February there was the following report, Fruit, Vegetable, and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Intake Among Young Children, by State-United States, 2021. Most concerning is the following information about what children, aged 1-5 years, ate during the preceding week: “approximately one in three children did not eat a daily fruit, nearly one half did not eat a daily vegetable and more than one half drank a sugar sweetened beverage a least once”. The percentages did vary from state to state for example in Vermont, 30.4% of children did not eat a daily vegetable while 64.3% did not eat a daily vegetable in Louisiana.
Also noted in the report the percentage of children who did not eat a daily fruit or vegetable was higher among those aged 2-5, Black or lived in households with limited food sufficiency. Similar patterns were seen for consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.
The shocking information is that in the United States this diet deficiency exist, particularly in view of the knowledge that children need daily fruits and vegetables for healthy growth and brain development. Parents and health care providers need to evaluate if this is happening in their family or in their community. Is this happening because of lack of knowledge about the importance of diet in growth and development in their children or its importance on how long they will live? Is it because food is too expensive or not available? Is it because sugar sweetened drinks are advertised?
Many food products are more expensive because of problems with drought, flooding, avian flu, war, etc. Vegetables and fruits provide an array of vitamins, minerals, and fiber that help the body to grow and to fight infection. Fresh fruits and vegetables tend to be expensive and can spoil if not used quickly. Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can provide the same nutritional benefits at a lower cost. With both frozen and canned foods look at the label, it should say “ingredients: green beans”, no sodium added, no cheese sauce or other ingredients. Watch out for added sugars and buy “packed in own juice” or “unsweetened”.
Children (and the entire family) should have a variety of foods from five major food groups daily. Each group supplies important nutrients, including vitamins and minerals. The five food groups are vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods or dairy products.
Eat healthy to live long.
by Sally Robinson, MD Clinical Professor
Keeping Kids Healthy
Also See: UTMB Pediatrics - Pediatric Primary Care