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New data shows that mothers have steadily found it easier to get their families to eat fruits and vegetables when eating out over the past two years, particularly at fast-food establishments.
In 2010, mothers reported it easy to eat fruit (25 percent) and vegetables (17 percent) at a fast-food establishment, up significantly from the 19 percent who reported it easy to eat fruit and 8 percent reporting that it was easy to eat vegetables in 2008. Thirty-seven percent of moms reported it easy to get their families to eat fruit at restaurants generally, versus 29 percent in 2008. Moms’ reported ease in getting vegetables at restaurants declined, however, from 45 percent to 43 percent between 2008 and 2010.
Despite the increases in ease of getting families to eat more fruit in restaurants, only 8.8 percent of all menu items include fruit and only 3 percent of overall fruit consumption comes from restaurants. Regarding vegetables, 44.8 percent of all menu items include at least one vegetable (excluding chips and fries), and 15 percent of all vegetable consumption (excluding chips and fries) is consumed in restaurants. Together, only 11 percent of fruits and vegetables are consumed at restaurants, representing 72 cups per person per year.
In 2010, moms reported one of their top barriers to getting their families to eat more fruits and vegetables was not having a good range of fruits and vegetables available in restaurants.
“This speaks to both a need and a desire by parents to serve their families more fruits and vegetables. For families who may eat out more, or eat at less expensive fast food restaurants, it is important that menus include healthy fruit and vegetable options,” said Elizabeth Pivonka president and CEO of Produce for Better Health Foundation, which commissioned the research. “Efforts to provide healthy fruit and vegetable choices on menus by companies like McDonald’s have positively influenced parents’ ability to get their families to eat fruits and vegetables. We simply need more restaurants offering such healthy options.”
Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), the non-profit organization behind the Fruits & Veggies-More Matters national public health initiative, provides this new data from the results of three fruit and vegetable related surveys. A customized survey of 1,000 moms is fielded for PBH by OnResearch annually; consumption data was provided by NPD Foodworld Group Research using their Nutrient Intake Database; and the percent of menu items that include either fruit or vegetables was provided by Datassentials using their MenuTrends Direct research.