The vast majority of Americans are not eating enough fruits and vegetables, according to a new report from the CDC.
The most recent edition of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that adults consume 1.5 to two cups of fruit per day, and two to three cups of vegetables per day. According to the CDC’s data, however, just 12.2% of American adults are meeting the standard for fruit, and 9.3% are meeting the standard for vegetables. On average, the report adds, Americans are eating fruit once per day and vegetables 1.7 times per day.
The numbers vary slightly state by state, but even the leading regions fall far short of the guidelines. People in Washington, D.C. eat the most fruit, with 15.5% of adults meeting the guidelines, and Alaska leads vegetable consumption with 12% compliance. On the flip side, only 7.3% and 5.8% of people in West Virginia are eating enough fruits and vegetables, respectively. Across the board, the study found, women eat more produce than men, and young adults eat fewer fruits and vegetables than other age groups.
It’s important to get these numbers up, according to the CDC, because plant-heavy diets have been shown to reduce the risk for everything from type 2 diabetes and obesity to cardiovascular disease and some types of cancer. To increase consumption, the report says, the U.S. should aim to lower costs, expand access and improve education efforts.