A Gallup poll said that fewer U.S. adults are eating fruits and vegetables in 2011 than they did last year. But the Produce for Better Health Foundation isn’t on the bandwagon.
“I saw that poll from last year,” PBH president Elizabeth Pivonka said. “I’m not getting overly excited about it this year.”
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index has tracked health behaviors of Americans daily since 2008, asking them if they ate healthy the day before, and how often they have eaten five servings of fruits and vegetables in the last week, among other questions.
That’s part of why Pivonka is more apt to trust her own data, which uses two-week food diaries instead of a daily telephone poll, and examines five-year trends instead of one.
“The whole science of asking people what they eat is fairly complicated,” she said.
She said that PBH buys its data from the NPD group, which examined 2,000 households and 5,000 people, compared to the 1,000 polled daily by Gallup.
That data, from 2004 to 2009, says that Americans are eating about the same amount of fruits and vegetables as they were before.
In some ways, both sets of research agree. Gallup and NPD’s data suggest that seniors are eating less produce than before.
But Gallup only polled adults, while NPD’s data suggests that children aged 2-12, and especially 2-6, increased their produce consumption, bringing up the national average.
Of all race, gender, and age groups in the Gallup polls, Hispanics had the biggest decrease in eating fruits and vegetables in 2011.
“That surprises me,” Pivonka said. “A traditional Hispanic diet contains more fruit and vegetables.”
She did like that the poll also asked about other health-related topics, like smoking, and emotional and physical health.
“It’s nice in the sense that you can compare their response with other behaviors,” she said, “but it’s not a really good indicator of what people are actually eating.”