Less than one in ten US children are eating the recommended levels of fruit and vegetables per day, according to a new study.
Published in next month's issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the latest information adds to the growing body of evidence indicating that most adolescents fail to meet the nation's dietary guidelines.
According to the study, which analyzed the behavior of almost 900 children aged 11 to 15, only 12 percent of participants consumed the recommended five or more daily servings of fruit and vegetables. This is 10 percentage points lower than what has been reported nationally, said the researchers.
In addition, only 32 percent of children were found to meet the recommendations for saturated fat intake of less than 10 percent of total energy.
Family dietary practices were found to be associated with adolescents' food choices, with parents' consumption of fat, fruit and vegetables being identified as a predictor of adolescent consumption habits.
The report also looked at children's levels of physical activity, and their television viewing time, both additional factors generally associated with obesity risk. According to the study's findings, nearly 80 percent of participants revealed "multiple physical activity and dietary risk behaviors".
The report concluded that further research is needed to investigate the effectiveness of different programs and strategies designed to promote "multiple behavior change" in adolescence.
According to a report issued in September by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), one third of American children are either obese or at risk for obesity. And the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reveal that in the past quarter century, the proportion of overweight children aged 6-11 has doubled, while the number of overweight adolescents has tripled.
The dramatic rise in obesity has prompted widespread changes throughout the food industry, schools and communities in an effort to prevent the spreading epidemic.
Indeed, the IOM's report examined the nation's progress in preventing childhood obesity, providing further recommendations for government, industry, media, communities, schools, and families to collectively respond to the growing obesity epidemic in children and youth.