Fruits And Vegetables At The Forefront Of Recommendations
December 29, 2020 – The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) commends the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS) for releasing the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2020-2025 (DGA). This document is written for policymakers and health professionals and provides evidence-based recommendations for healthy eating patterns in the U.S. Importantly, the main message of the newly-released DGA is – Make Every Bite Count. More than ever, the two food groups that desperately need this advice to be heeded are fruits and vegetables.
National food consumption data show fruits and vegetables are two of the top three food groups under consumed in the US. The consumer-facing MyPlate depicts fruit and vegetable dietary guidance prominently on the plate – with the recommendation to “make half your plate fruits and vegetables.”
“Given PBH’s commitment to advancing the role that all forms of fruits and vegetables – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice – play in improving health and well-being, we commend the agencies for their dedication to completing the new DGA and continuing to keep fruits and vegetables at the forefront of dietary guidance,” says Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RDN, president and CEO for PBH. “As a MyPlate National Strategic Partner and purpose-driven organization focused on improving produce consumption among all Americans, we fully support these recommendations and pledge to work collaboratively to promote fruits and vegetables first for happier, healthier lives, as most Americans still simply do not eat enough.”
There is strong scientific evidence that healthy eating patterns are associated with positive health outcomes, and higher intakes of vegetables and fruit are consistently identified as characteristics of healthy eating patterns. Still, of the 2-3 cups of vegetables and 1 ½ to 2 cups of fruit per day recommended for adults 19 and older, current intake in this population is just 1.6 and 0.9 cups of vegetables and fruits per day, respectively – well below even the range minimums.1
A different way of putting it is this – a whopping 9 out of 10 adults simply do not get enough. Finally, and most concerning, these intake levels have not changed significantly since 2003-2004.1 Such flat and/or declining intake trends are very concerning to PBH as well as many other food system thought leaders.
In response, PBH called out America’s chronic consumption crisis and implored that new fruit and vegetable consumption behaviors become a national priority. More than 25 leading fruit and vegetable companies and organizations signed on to support PBH research aimed at improving consumption as of December 2020, with more expected to join the cause in 2021.
While the DGA articulate science-based recommendations behind the health benefits of fruits and vegetables, consumption statistics as well as PBH’s research has shown that these facts, or what people know, are simply not enough to motivate behavior change.
“It’s great the new DGA reinforce the important role fruits and vegetables play in health and well-being, yet people still aren’t eating them. We’ve got to find a different way to make the planet’s favorite plants craveable,” says Reinhardt Kapsak. “PBH’s consumer-facing Have A Plant® Movement and corresponding digital ecosystem offer a new and different approach by tapping into how Americans feel about healthy eating and, most importantly, what they can do to create new fruit and vegetable habits. We call this PBH’s KNOW-FEEL-DO Behavioral Framework.”
“The time is now for food system stakeholders to work together to translate science into guidance that connects Americans’ feelings about food with how the doing can be easy and fun. Now is the time to bring PBH’s KNOW-FEEL-DO Behavioral Framework to life as subsequent, consumer-facing dietary guidance messaging is created for every life stage.”
The DGA is the first set of guidelines that provide standards for healthy dietary patterns by life stage, from birth through older adulthood, including pregnant and lactating women.
PBH has remained steadfast in supporting the science showcasing the role that fruits and vegetables play in promoting both health and quality of life. In 2019, PBH’s chief food and nutrition scientist, Taylor Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN, provided written and oral comments on PBH’s behalf, submitting research from the PBH-commissioned scientific review showing evidence that fruits and vegetables contribute to better health as well as improved life expectancy and quality. In August 2020, Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, PBH president and CEO, submitted written and oral comments again, reinforcing the role fruits and vegetables play in healthy eating patterns for better health and happiness.
Taylor Wallace, PhD, CFS, FACN, PBH Chief Food and Nutrition Scientist; Principal & CEO, the Think Healthy Group and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Nutrition & Food Studies, George Mason University delivers PBH’s comments at the second meeting of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans Advisory Committee meeting in July 2019.
To download the full DGA, click here. For resources and tools to communicate with consumers, check out www.myplate.gov.
 Bowman SA, Clemens JC, Friday JE, Schroeder N, Shimizu M, LaCombRP, and Moshfegh AJ. Food Patterns Equivalents Intakes by Americans: What We Eat in America, NHANES 2003-2004 and 2015-2016. Food Surveys Research Group. Dietary Data Brief No. 20, November 2018
 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Department of Agriculture. 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 8th Edition. December 2015. Available at: http://health.gov/dietaryguidelines/2015/guidelines/.
 “Daily Vegetable Table.” ChooseMyPlate, www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/vegetables.
 “Daily Fruit Table.” ChooseMyPlate, www.choosemyplate.gov/eathealthy/fruits.
 Lee-Kwan SH, Moore LV, Blanck HM, Harris DM, Galuska D. Disparities in State-Specific Adult Fruit and Vegetable Consumption — United States, 2015. Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2017;66:1241–1247