Spring/Summer 2003    Vol. 11, Issue 1
"5 A Day The Color Way" Campaign Encourages Americans to Eat Their Colors Every Day
While most Americans are aware that eating vegetables and fruit is important to a healthy diet, current trends are alarming: Vegetable and fruit consumption is declining; obesity is on the rise; and many consumers are replacing vegetables and fruit with high-calorie foods. In fact, just one in five Americans meets the USDA recommendation for consuming at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, according to the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH), a non-profit organization that promotes fruit and vegetable consumption. Furthermore, just 13 percent of American families with children and 44 percent of Americans over age 65 consume five daily servings of vegetables and fruit. Overall, vegetable and fruit consumption has declined nearly 14 percent over the past decade, from 874 annual servings per capita in 1992 to 754 in 2002.
Meanwhile, the science behind the health benefits of eating vegetables and fruit has grown stronger. A range of epidemiological studies over the last several decades from around the world demonstrate that frequent consumption of vegetables and fruit is associated not only with a reduction in cancer risk, but also with a lower risk of developing hypertension, myocardial infarction, coronary artery disease, cataracts, and asthma and other lung diseases. In addition, regular intake of vegetables and fruit may help maintain memory and promote healthy aging, urinary tract health, strong bones and teeth, and healthy body weight and blood sugar levels. (Download "The Health Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables" from www.5aday.com\.) While the mechanisms by which vegetables and fruit might improve human health are not fully known, there is ample scientific basis on which to recommend eating five to10 servings of vegetables and fruit each day.

The 5 A Day for Better Health program was specifically designed to do just that: recommend -- and increase -- vegetable and fruit consumption among Americans. Started as a pilot project in 1988 at the California Department of Health with a grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI), the program rapidly gained support and went national in 1991. PBH was founded to work with NCI on this national program. Over the next decade, the foundation delivered the "5 A Day" message via hundreds of supermarket produce departments, the media, and vegetable and fruit growers licensed to use the "5 A Day" logo on certain produce.

In addition, NCI funded nine "5 A Day" research projects, conducted public relations outreach, and managed "5 A Day" coordinators in every U.S. state and the military. In 2001, NCI expanded the program to include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and several parts of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Together with the American Cancer Society and other industry and public health groups, the institute also formed a National 5 A Day Partnership, governed by a steering committee of 10 members and chaired by PBH.

PBH unveiled its "Color Way" campaign in October 2002, urging consumers to eat a colorful array of vegetables and fruit, including at least one daily serving from each of five color groups -- blue/purple, green, white, yellow/orange and red. The campaign features: consumer relations materials; a store retail program; a TV public service announcement; national public relations; a redesigned Web site (www.5aday.com); school cafeteria posters; and a nutrition education program reaching 1 million school children in partnership with the makers of Crayola crayons. The "Color Way" campaign and "5 A Day" intervention may have played a role in the slight increase in vegetable and fruit intake recorded between 1991-1997 by the USDA's "Continuing Survey of Food Intake By Individuals." And without this intervention, the decline in consumption witnessed in the last decade would have been much greater, PBH estimates.

More recently, PBH has been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to bring together nations around the globe to share "5 A Day" implementation strategies. The 3rd International "5 A Day" Symposium, convened in Berlin in January 2003, was the culmination of this joint effort. Next steps -- in the works with WHO -- include a Global 5 A Day Partnership scheduled for Rio de Janeiro in November 2003.

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© 2003 CECHE
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