Teenagers are infrequent consumers of fruits and vegetables, a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates.

The study, published on Nov. 25, estimates that in 2010 the median number of times per day that high school students consumed fruits and vegetables was 1.2 for both.

“The infrequent fruit and vegetable consumption by high school students highlights the need for effective strategies to increase consumption,” the study said.

The study showed that 28.5% of high school students consumed fruit less than one time daily, while 33% consumed vegetables less than one time daily. The research found only 16.8% consumed fruit more than four times daily, and just 11.2% of students consumed vegetables more than four times daily.

The CDC found daily fruit consumption was higher among male (1.4) than female (1.2) students. What’s more, consumption deteriorated among older students. Median consumption was 1.2 times daily for the 10th and 12th grades, but 1.4 times daily for 9th grade students.

The low consumption levels among teens didn’t surprise Elizabeth Pivonka, president and chief executive officer of the Hockessin, Del.-based Produce for Better Health Foundation,

“Using a different data set, when we did our State of the Plate Analysis in 2010, we were seeing that teens had decreased their consumption of fruits and vegetables over the previous five years,” she said.

Challenges teens face in increasing fruit and vegetable consumption include active schedules and limited dollars to spend, Pivonka said.

She said investing in fruit and vegetable promotions targeting teens may pay off, however.

Recent research conducted in California indicated with adequate promotion, education and social marketing efforts, consumption among youth can be increased.

Although most educational materials are geared toward younger kids, Pivonka said PBH does have educational material for a teen audience.  

The CDC report also indicated that changing school eating environments could boost fruit and vegetable consumption.