Fruits and Vegetables Prevent Childhood Obesity

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fv_c2One of the reasons today's children are battling obesity is that they aren't eating enough fruits and vegetables. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C, while fruits contribute potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). And most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories and are cholesterol-free.

Kate Lawson

"Today, about 96 percent of kids age 2 to 12 fall short of the recommended 2-5 cups per day of fruits and vegetables; that means most kids need to more than double their current intake," says Elizabeth Pivonka, a registered dietitian and president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, the nonprofit entity behind the Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters health initiative.

She knows getting kids to eat fruits and vegetables can be challenging, but it is one way to keep obesity at bay.

Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, vitamin E and vitamin C, while fruits contribute potassium, dietary fiber, vitamin C and folate (folic acid). And most fruits are naturally low in fat, sodium, and calories and are cholesterol-free. Snacking on fruits that are low in calories per cup instead of some other higher-calorie food may be useful in helping to lower calorie intake, which is a major factor in helping to prevent obesity.

Other components of a healthy diet include whole grains, calcium-rich foods and lean protein such as chicken and beans. But it is the fruits and vegetables that get neglected most often in children's diets, and convincing them to eat them can sometimes feel like a monumental task.

Pivonka cautions parents to not send mixed signals.

"Don't be the mom who insists that her kids eat breakfast and then skips the meal, or the dad who tells his kids to eat all their vegetables and then won't eat them himself," she says.


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