Lack of Federal Spending Costs Billions in Public Health

November 8, 2010

New Data Shows Need for Increased Investment in Fruit and Vegetable Spending

BOSTON, Nov. 8, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — A new analysis today evaluates federal government spending priorities over the past ten years and finds that national fruit and vegetable consumption remains a low priority for the government, despite warnings from high-level federal officials about the impact of diet-related diseases.

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The Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), the non-profit organization behind the Fruits & Veggies–More Matters® national public health initiative, today released two new complementary reports on America’s fruit and vegetable consumption along with recommendations to alleviate the enormous economic and disease-related costs associated with the lack of fruit and vegetable consumption.

“The research reinforces the importance of fruits and vegetables to good health. Increased consumption helps reduce the risk of obesity and many diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and some cancers,” said Elizabeth Pivonka, Ph.D., R.D., president and CEO of PBH. “Everyone can benefit from eating more fruits and vegetables. That is why the federal government must make fruit and vegetable spending a public health priority. We cannot simply ‘talk the talk’–we must ‘walk the walk’ and help put in place a healthy future for our children.”

The 2010 GAP Analysis outlines the extent to which the federal government policies have made fruits and vegetables a national public health priority. According to the analysis, however, the government’s relegation of fruits and vegetables to a low funding priority status is inconsistent with this public health priority, the large produce consumption gap, and the economic costs and substantial health risks associated with that gap.

In fact, the average American consumes only 43 percent of the daily intake of fruit and only 57 percent of vegetables, as recommended in the Dietary Guidelines. Further, the public health and economic stakes associated with the fruit and vegetable consumption gap are very high and growing rapidly. For example, the health care and other costs of inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption for just three diet-related, chronic diseases–coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer–cost $56 billion a year, having grown 9 percent per year over the past 10 years. The analysis issued a series of forward-looking recommendations designed to close this pervasive gap:

  • Align USDA spending with dietary recommendations
  • Elevate nutrition education as a USDA funding priority
  • Allocate NIH funding based on the disease-prevention benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption
  • Bring CDC fruit and vegetable spending in line with chronic disease health risks

“Closing the fruit and vegetable consumption gap requires us to close the fruit and vegetable spending gap. Given the annual $56 billion price tag of this gap, it is critical that we do so,” concluded Pivonka.

On the consumer level, the State of the Plate report examines America’s produce consumption. Among its findings, several groups have increased their fruit consumption by at least 5 percent since 2004. These include children ages 2-12, males 18-34, and females 18-54. Teens and those 65 and older, however, appear to be eating less fruits and vegetables. While trends in population segments show signs of improvement, overall under-consumption continues to be a problem.

Taken together, these reports show that America faces a fruit and vegetable consumption crisis. The federal spending gap parallels the individual consumption gap. In order to address this public health challenge, efforts must focus on aligning spending priorities with the importance of fruits and vegetables to health, with a focus on fruit and vegetable availability and targeted messaging to increase widespread consumption.

An executive summary of the 2010 GAP Analysis can be read online at www.pbhfoundation.org/research/2010gapexecsumm.pdf. The 2010 GAP Analysis can be found online in full at www.pbhfoundation.org/research/2010gapanalysis.pdf. The State of the Plate report can be found online at www.pbhfoundation.org/research/stateplate.pdf.

SOURCE Produce for Better Health Foundation

Source: newswire

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