Capital News Service

of the Michigan State University School of Journalism

State’s teens fall short on fruit, vegetables

By: JULIET WANG
Capital News Service

LANSING– Teenagers aren’t eating enough of the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, a new federal report says. And Michigan teens do worse than the national average.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a smaller percent of adolescents get the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables in their diet than adults.

The national average is 14 percent for adults and only 9.5 percent for teens. Michigan falls below the national average in both categories.

Michelle Nikolai, a dietitian at Sparrow Food and Nutrition Services in Lansing, says the daily recommendation is five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables or three to five of vegetables and two to four of fruits.

“This applies to both teens and adults,” she said.

In Michigan, 7.4 percent of ninth- to twelfth-graders get the recommended amounts in their diet, compared to 11.8 percent of adults.

Eleventh-grader Rabia Mahmood of East Lansing High School admitted needing help to getting her daily vegetable servings.

“Fruits I get enough of, but my mom has to tell me to eat vegetables,” Mahmood says. “When I eat vegetables they’re usually cooked in something.”

Nikolai said teenagers, who are eating out more, can take advantage of salad options, take-out salads, yogurt fruit parfaits and smoothies made with fruit.”

“If the teenagers see it, they tend to eat it. If they don’t see it, they don’t think to go see it out,” Nikolai said.

Eleventh-grader Roan Ma, also at East Lansing High, said she eats her recommended amount of fruits and vegetables daily.

“I usually eat fruits and vegetables as they are,” Ma said. “My mom makes smoothies so I can get my fruit servings in that way, too.”

Filed under: Social Policy

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