The Washington Post

49 percent

- — Linda Searing

Nearly half of American children ages 1 to 5 — 49 percent — do not eat a vegetable daily, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In addition, not quite 1 in 3 young children (32 percent) eat fruit daily, and more than half (57 percent) drink a sugar-sweetened beverage at least once a week. The findings — based on responses from the parents of 18,386 children in 2021 — appear to run counter to nutritiona­l guidelines, which recommend that children in this age group consume one to two cups of fruits and vegetables daily, depending on age, and that their consumptio­n of drinks or foods with added sugar be minimal. The CDC report noted how often children did or did not consume these foods and drinks, but it did not assess the amount the children consumed. For the tally, fruits and vegetables could be fresh, frozen or canned but not in juice form; vegetables did not include french fries, fried potatoes and potato chips; and sugar-sweetened beverages included soda, fruit drinks, sports drinks and sweet tea but not 100 percent fruit juice. The report found considerab­le variation in consumptio­n from state to state. For instance, the number of children who do not eat fruit daily ranged from 16 percent in Vermont to about 50 percent in Louisiana. In assessing children’s diets, nutrition experts generally say a diet that regularly includes fruits and vegetables provides needed nutrients that give children a healthy start for growth and developmen­t. Most children also benefit from a diet that includes nutrient-rich grains, dairy products, seafood, lean meat and poultry. Also, limiting foods or drinks with added sugars can help reduce risk for obesity, diabetes and heart disease, as well as dental problems. Foods high in saturated fats and salt should be limited, as well.

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