(Dec. 1) For the first time in nearly 15 years, a study has shown that Americans are increasing their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

According to the Produce for Better Health Foundation’s 2005 State of the Plate Report, there was a net increase of 1% in the consumption of fruits and vegetables from 2002 to 2004. This is the first increase since 1991, when studies showed the consumption of fruit and vegetables began a 14% decline from 1991 to 2002.

PBH president Elizabeth Pivonka said in a Nov. 29 news release that the increase in fruit and vegetable consumption is because of Americans’ renewed focus on eating a balanced diet.

“With fad diet crazes on the wane, fewer Americans are focusing on what not to eat, and instead are becoming more aware of the foods they should be eating in greater quantities in order to maintain a healthy weight and live longer lives,” Pivonka said.

The increase was a combination of a 4% increase in fruit consumption and a 2% fall in vegetables, said Christine Filardo, PBH director of public relations. An increase in fresh fruit consumption at snacks and meals, except dinner, accounted for the increased fruit consumption. Fewer people are making vegetable side dishes at home, Filardo said, which accounted for the decrease in vegetable consumption.

The report uses two studies from by ACNielsen and NPD Foodworld Research, which also showed the number of Americans eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables in 2004 had increased by nearly 50% compared to the previous year.

The ACNielsen study found that 18% of the 2,600 participating households said they were eating the recommended five servings a day, and NPD Foodworld reported 20% of its 2,000 participating households were doing the same.

The studies also showed that the number of Americans who are aware of the 5 a Day message is on the rise. According to an ACNielsen study, 57% of the participants stated that five daily servings of fruits and vegetables are recommended, up from 40% the previous year.