Kids still not eating enough produce

By Tanya Davis | Published Wednesday, August 30, 2017

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Recent studies are still showing us that many children still aren’t getting enough fruits and vegetables.

The recommendations for fruits and vegetables vary widely. They depend on children’s daily calorie needs, which relate to their age and activity level. The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advises that:

Children ages 2 to 5 should eat 1 to 1.5 cups of fruit and 1 to 2 cups of vegetables a day.

Children ages 6 to 11 should eat 1 to 2 cups of fruit and 1.5 to 3 cups of vegetables a day.

Children and teens ages 12 to 19 should eat 1.5 to 2.5 cups of fruit and 2 to 4 cups of vegetables a day.

As you might suspect, most kids don’t eat enough produce. A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that while children have increased their overall fruit intake since 2003, most – 6 in 10 – are still not eating enough fruit. What’s worse, 9 in 10 kids don’t meet the recommendations for vegetable consumption.

The findings about vegetables were not as positive. Not only was there no increase in vegetable consumption over the study period, 2003 to 2010, but 30 percent of the vegetables kids consumed were white potatoes, often eaten as less-healthful fried potatoes or even potato chips.

To help your family eat more vegetables try the following recipe from the Dinner Tonight program. It has been a hit at our Kids in the Kitchen Day Camps.


Servings: 6

  • 1 container of pre-made, refrigerated pizza dough
  • one 4 ounce container prepared pesto
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 1/4 pound sliced mushrooms
  • 2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Heat oven to 425 F. Arrange zucchini, bell pepper and mushrooms in a shallow layer on pan. Roast in oven for 20 minutes until vegetables are browned. Remove from oven and increase temperature to 500 F.

Spray a 10-12 inch round pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray. Stretch pizza dough to fit one pan. Spread the pesto over the dough. Scatter the roasted vegetables on the pesto and top with mozzarella. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the crust is golden.

Nutrition information per serving: 290 calories; 11 g fat (2 g saturated); 5 mg cholesterol; 320 mg sodium; 25 g carbohydrates; 12 g protein.

Tanya Davis is a Wise County Extension agent.

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