The federal government isn’t doing enough to help American consumers bridge the gap between reality and recommended fruit and vegetable consumption.

The Produce for Better Health Foundation issued what it called the 2010 GAP Analysis Nov. 8. The report indicates federal government policies have not been consistent with importance of fruits and vegetables in the American diet.

The average American consumes only 43% of the daily recommended intake of fruit and only 57% of vegetables, according to the report.

In view of the consumption shortfall, the study found that the public health and economic issues related to fruit and vegetable consumption gap are high and growing rapidly.

In fact, for just three diet-linked diseases — coronary heart disease, stroke and cancer — the study found the health care costs related to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption tallied $56 billion annually and have escalated 9% per year over the past decade.

“Closing the fruit and vegetable consumption gap requires us to close the fruit and vegetable spending gap, said Elizabeth Pivonka, president of PBH, in a news release. “Given the annual $56 billion price tag of this gap, it is critical that we do so,”

The federal government must increase its fiscal commitment to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption, she said.

“We cannot simply ‘talk the talk’ — we must ‘walk the walk’ and help put in place a healthy future for our children,” she said in the release.

The PBH study recommends that:

  • USDA spending should reflect dietary recommendations.
  • Nutrition education should be a USDA funding priority.
  • National Institutes of Health funding should be based on the disease-prevention benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fruit and vegetable funding and programs should reflect chronic disease health risks.
PBH report faults lack of federal spending