Survey's Startling Findings: Californians Not the Stereotypical Picture of Health

Many Fall Below Recommended Fruit and Vegetable Consumption Levels;

Gardening Linked to Healthy Eating Habits



Apr 25, 2001, 01:00 ET from American Cancer Society

    OAKLAND, Calif., April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The tofu-eating, weight-
 conscious and healthy image of Californians may be just that -- an image.
     Californians by a large majority fail to eat the recommended five daily
 servings of fruits and vegetables, according to the latest results shared in a
 special report released today by the Public Health Institute and American
 Cancer Society. Seventy-nine percent of children, 63 percent of adolescent
 girls, 76 percent of adolescent boys* and 68 percent of adults fall seriously
 below nutrition guidelines recommended by national health authorities,
 endorsed by the Society and promoted through the California 5 a Day Power
 Play! Campaign. The report also shows high rates of fast food consumption and
 low exercise levels among all three age groups.
     Nearly 35 percent of all cancer deaths are linked to improper diet and
 lack of exercise. These risk factors, when left unchecked, also lead to high
 rates of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and
 high blood cholesterol.
     "What's unique is that the surveys allow us to see patterns in eating and
 exercise behaviors among children, adolescents and adults," said Carmen
 Nevarez, MD, vice president of external relations for the Public Health
 Institute. "Negative health behaviors start in childhood, something we can
 clearly see continues into adulthood."
     Mean servings of fruits and vegetables among Californians ranged from
 3.0 for children, 4.3 for adolescents to 3.8 for adults. Nutrition guidelines
 for children, adults and teen girls suggest at least five servings of fruits
 and vegetables a day for good health, and seven servings are recommended for
 teen-age boys.
     "Despite the ongoing efforts of the Public Health Institute, American
 Cancer Society and partners across the state, the message is not getting
 through," said Carolyn Katzin, MSPH (Master of Science in Public Health), a
 Certified Nutrition Specialist and the chair of the American Cancer Society's
 Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative Team in California. "With
 Californians often portrayed as role models for healthy eating and physical
 fitness, it's especially important to dispel this myth and alert the public
 that we are not eating enough fruits and vegetables."
     The latest findings come from the 1999 California Dietary Practices Survey
 (CDPS), which asked about the eating, exercise and gardening habits of
 1,492 randomly selected Californians 18 and older. Combined with data from the
 1998 California Teen Eating, Exercise and Nutrition Survey (CalTEENS) and the
 1999 California Children's Healthy Eating and Exercise Practices Survey
 (CalCHEEPS), the CDPS results provide a multi-generational view of the eating,
 exercise and fast food consumption habits of Californians from age 9 to adult.
     While the surveys generate alarm about Californians' continued lack of
 proper diet, they also show significant positive links between gardening,
 eating less fast food, fruit and vegetable consumption, and exercise.
     Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables increased from 3.5 servings
 among adults who do not garden to 4.1 servings for those who do. Similarly,
 12- to 17-year-olds who garden eat 4.7 servings of fruits and vegetables
 compared to 4.0 servings for their non-gardening counterparts. Among children,
 daily servings consumed ranged from 2.9 for gardeners and 2.4 for
 non-gardeners.
     Among gardeners, 59 percent of adults reported being physically active
 compared to 51 percent of non-gardeners. Forty-eight percent of adolescents
 who garden exercise regularly compared to 34 percent of those who do not
 garden.
     "This is not surprising considering that gardening provides the perfect
 combination of exercise and nutrition education," said Katzin, chair of the
 American Cancer Society's California Nutrition and Physical Activity
 Initiative Team. "The benefits of gardening cut across socio-economic, race,
 ethnicity, gender and class boundaries. Gardening provides an excellent
 resource of inexpensive fresh fruits and vegetables."
     The negative correlation shown between fast foods and fruit and vegetable
 consumption may be less shocking. Adolescents' servings ranged from 4.0 for
 fast food eaters to 4.4 for non-fast food eaters. Adults showed greater
 disparity:  those who eat at fast food establishments reported eating only
 2.9 servings a day versus 4.0 servings among their counterparts. Additionally,
 89 percent of adults say it's hard to buy fruits and vegetables in fast food
 outlets.
     To call attention to the problem and highlight solutions, the American
 Cancer Society will share diet, nutrition and exercise guidelines on April 25
 with more than 200,000 California school children during its annual "Spring
 Into Health! Day" events. "Spring Into Health!" supports the California
 Department of Health Services 5 a Day Power Play! Campaign, a statewide
 initiative that aims to increase the average fruit and vegetable consumption
 among 9- to 11-year-olds to five servings or more daily.
     The Public Health Institute and the Society recommend increasing gardening
 activities, fruit and vegetable consumption, nutrition and physical exercise
 education in schools and decreasing fast food intake. They also want to
 encourage inexpensive, low-fat foods at fast food establishments and safe,
 easy access to walking paths, bike racks and locker rooms at worksites.
     "These surveys show that common-sense measures may modify the eating and
 exercise behaviors of children, adolescents and adults," said Katzin.
 "Considering the serious negative health consequences associated with poor
 diet and sedentary lifestyles, it's critical that we continue to promote
 physical activity and five servings of fruits and vegetables a day for all
 Californians."
     The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary
 health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem
 by preventing cancer, saving lives from cancer and diminishing suffering from
 cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.
     * Nutrition guidelines for adolescent boys call for 7 daily servings of
 fruits and vegetables.
 
                      MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X77418336
 
 

SOURCE American Cancer Society
    OAKLAND, Calif., April 25 /PRNewswire/ -- The tofu-eating, weight-
 conscious and healthy image of Californians may be just that -- an image.
     Californians by a large majority fail to eat the recommended five daily
 servings of fruits and vegetables, according to the latest results shared in a
 special report released today by the Public Health Institute and American
 Cancer Society. Seventy-nine percent of children, 63 percent of adolescent
 girls, 76 percent of adolescent boys* and 68 percent of adults fall seriously
 below nutrition guidelines recommended by national health authorities,
 endorsed by the Society and promoted through the California 5 a Day Power
 Play! Campaign. The report also shows high rates of fast food consumption and
 low exercise levels among all three age groups.
     Nearly 35 percent of all cancer deaths are linked to improper diet and
 lack of exercise. These risk factors, when left unchecked, also lead to high
 rates of hypertension, coronary heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and
 high blood cholesterol.
     "What's unique is that the surveys allow us to see patterns in eating and
 exercise behaviors among children, adolescents and adults," said Carmen
 Nevarez, MD, vice president of external relations for the Public Health
 Institute. "Negative health behaviors start in childhood, something we can
 clearly see continues into adulthood."
     Mean servings of fruits and vegetables among Californians ranged from
 3.0 for children, 4.3 for adolescents to 3.8 for adults. Nutrition guidelines
 for children, adults and teen girls suggest at least five servings of fruits
 and vegetables a day for good health, and seven servings are recommended for
 teen-age boys.
     "Despite the ongoing efforts of the Public Health Institute, American
 Cancer Society and partners across the state, the message is not getting
 through," said Carolyn Katzin, MSPH (Master of Science in Public Health), a
 Certified Nutrition Specialist and the chair of the American Cancer Society's
 Nutrition and Physical Activity Initiative Team in California. "With
 Californians often portrayed as role models for healthy eating and physical
 fitness, it's especially important to dispel this myth and alert the public
 that we are not eating enough fruits and vegetables."
     The latest findings come from the 1999 California Dietary Practices Survey
 (CDPS), which asked about the eating, exercise and gardening habits of
 1,492 randomly selected Californians 18 and older. Combined with data from the
 1998 California Teen Eating, Exercise and Nutrition Survey (CalTEENS) and the
 1999 California Children's Healthy Eating and Exercise Practices Survey
 (CalCHEEPS), the CDPS results provide a multi-generational view of the eating,
 exercise and fast food consumption habits of Californians from age 9 to adult.
     While the surveys generate alarm about Californians' continued lack of
 proper diet, they also show significant positive links between gardening,
 eating less fast food, fruit and vegetable consumption, and exercise.
     Daily consumption of fruits and vegetables increased from 3.5 servings
 among adults who do not garden to 4.1 servings for those who do. Similarly,
 12- to 17-year-olds who garden eat 4.7 servings of fruits and vegetables
 compared to 4.0 servings for their non-gardening counterparts. Among children,
 daily servings consumed ranged from 2.9 for gardeners and 2.4 for
 non-gardeners.
     Among gardeners, 59 percent of adults reported being physically active
 compared to 51 percent of non-gardeners. Forty-eight percent of adolescents
 who garden exercise regularly compared to 34 percent of those who do not
 garden.
     "This is not surprising considering that gardening provides the perfect
 combination of exercise and nutrition education," said Katzin, chair of the
 American Cancer Society's California Nutrition and Physical Activity
 Initiative Team. "The benefits of gardening cut across socio-economic, race,
 ethnicity, gender and class boundaries. Gardening provides an excellent
 resource of inexpensive fresh fruits and vegetables."
     The negative correlation shown between fast foods and fruit and vegetable
 consumption may be less shocking. Adolescents' servings ranged from 4.0 for
 fast food eaters to 4.4 for non-fast food eaters. Adults showed greater
 disparity:  those who eat at fast food establishments reported eating only
 2.9 servings a day versus 4.0 servings among their counterparts. Additionally,
 89 percent of adults say it's hard to buy fruits and vegetables in fast food
 outlets.
     To call attention to the problem and highlight solutions, the American
 Cancer Society will share diet, nutrition and exercise guidelines on April 25
 with more than 200,000 California school children during its annual "Spring
 Into Health! Day" events. "Spring Into Health!" supports the California
 Department of Health Services 5 a Day Power Play! Campaign, a statewide
 initiative that aims to increase the average fruit and vegetable consumption
 among 9- to 11-year-olds to five servings or more daily.
     The Public Health Institute and the Society recommend increasing gardening
 activities, fruit and vegetable consumption, nutrition and physical exercise
 education in schools and decreasing fast food intake. They also want to
 encourage inexpensive, low-fat foods at fast food establishments and safe,
 easy access to walking paths, bike racks and locker rooms at worksites.
     "These surveys show that common-sense measures may modify the eating and
 exercise behaviors of children, adolescents and adults," said Katzin.
 "Considering the serious negative health consequences associated with poor
 diet and sedentary lifestyles, it's critical that we continue to promote
 physical activity and five servings of fruits and vegetables a day for all
 Californians."
     The American Cancer Society is the nationwide community-based voluntary
 health organization dedicated to eliminating cancer as a major health problem
 by preventing cancer, saving lives from cancer and diminishing suffering from
 cancer through research, education, advocacy and service.
     * Nutrition guidelines for adolescent boys call for 7 daily servings of
 fruits and vegetables.
 
                      MAKE YOUR OPINION COUNT - Click Here
                http://tbutton.prnewswire.com/prn/11690X77418336
 
 SOURCE  American Cancer Society