Feb 16, 2023 - Health

Half of American kids don't eat a daily vegetable, CDC finds

Nearly half of young kids aren't eating a daily vegetable and one in three kids aren't getting at least one daily fruit in their diets, the CDC reported Thursday.

Why it matters: While this data is only a snapshot in time, it offers a glimpse at the quality of kids' diets — which impacts their growth and development — at a time of increased interest in addressing childhood nutrition, as well as concerns about the pending loss of pandemic-era food benefits.

Details: Researchers examined more than 18,000 responses from parents to the 2021 National Survey of Children’s Health regarding what their kids between the ages of 1 and 5 years old consumed in the previous week.

  • Just under half (49.1%) said their child did not eat a daily vegetable and 32.1% indicated their child didn't consume a daily fruit.
  • Meanwhile, 57.1% indicated their child had consumed a sugar-sweetened beverage at least once in the prior week.

The big picture: These indicators varied greatly by state.

  • For example, in Vermont, 30.4% of children in Vermont did not eat a daily vegetable in the prior week, compared with 64.3% in Louisiana.
  • About 40% of children in Maine consumed a sugar-sweetened beverage in the prior week compared to nearly 80% in Mississippi.
  • There were also a number of differences by race and ethnicity. For instance, the percentage of kids who did not consume a daily fruit or vegetable was greatest among non-Hispanic Black children.

The bottom line: "These data provide current assessments that states can use to prioritize actions to improve early childhood nutrition," the authors wrote.

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