A five-year progress report for increasing fruit and vegetable consumption gives mostly low grades to government and private efforts to increase consumption.

Following up on its National Action Plan released in 2005, leaders of the National Fruit & Vegetable Alliance gave out grades to various industry and government sectors for their work in improving diets.

Elizabeth Pivonka, co-chair of the alliance and president of PBH, Hockessin, Del., said in a teleconference today that the scorecard was developed using public and private data on fruit and vegetable consumption.

“The main take-home point is that there is still a lot of work to do and that it is the responsibility of both public and private sectors to make progress,” she said.

The alliance gave four failing grades:

  • Adult fruit and vegetable consumption;
  • Advertising of healthy foods;
  • Teenage fruit and vegetable consumption; and
  • The cost of inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption (health care costs, etc.).

Pivonka said both adult and teen fruit and vegetable consumption have not increased over the past five years, with the number of adults who reach vegetable consumption goals declining. Teen consumption of fruits and vegetables has dropped from 1.84 cups five years ago to 1.76 cups today.

Advertising of healthy foods has declined too, and Pivonka said the advertising money for fruits and vegetables is far less than it should be.

“With the recommended consumption of fruits and vegetables at nearly half of all food that should be consumed, nearly half of all food advertising should also focus on fruits and vegetables,” the report said.

Another failing grade was given to the fact that the costs relating to inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption continue to grow, rising from $29 billion in 2000 to $56 billion in 2010.

The 15-member alliance is composed of organizations seeking to increase fruit and vegetable consumption, including the Produce for Better Health Foundation, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the Produce Marketing Association and the United Fresh Produce Association.