Forget about flagging science standards for U.S. high schoolers or the eternal absence of an Olympics U.S. gold medal in badminton. What is the United States going to do about its middle-of-the pack status in per capita fruit and vegetable consumption?

 Yes, folks, I’ve seen the charts and they aren’t pretty. Consider the factoids from a report called “Health at a glance 2013” issued by a group called the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

The OECD, briefly, is an international organization that promotes the economic and social well being of people around the world, according to its website.

For the U.S., charity should begin at home, since we clearly are slackers in fruit and vegetable consumption.

“Health at a glance 2013” includes tables on life expectancy, mortality from cancer, obesity, tobacco use, alcoholic consumption and a slew of other statistics.


Broad findings for this year’s report:

  • Average life expectancy exceeded 80 years across OECD countries in 2011, an increase of ten years since 1970. Those born in Switzerland, Japan and Italy can expect to live the longest among OECD countries.
  • Across OECD countries, women can expect to live 5.5 years longer than men. People with the highest level of education can expect to live 6 years longer than those with the lowest level of education.
  • Chronic diseases such as diabetes and dementia are increasingly prevalent. In 2011, close to 7% of 20-79 year-olds in OECD countries, or over 85 million people, had diabetes.


For the data we are interested in, the OECD rates adult (and children) fruit and vegetable consumption in the U.S. and 27 other developed countries.

For fruit consumption, the U.S. ranks 25th out of 28 countries, ahead of only Mexico, Chile and Finland. The statistic showed that only 39% of U.S. men and 52% of U.S. women had fruit everyday, compared with Australia’s average of 92% of daily fruit eating for men and 95% for women. The overall OECD average was 57% of men and 69% of women who reported eating fruit daily.

 The U.S. is a little better in vegetable consumption, but nowhere near the medal stand. OECD statistics report the U.S. is ninth out of 28 OECD countries, trailing Australia(again number one), South Korea, New Zealand, Ireland, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico (pause for breath) and Israel. Statistics show that daily eating of vegetables in the U.S. was 74% for men and 82% for women. The overall OECD average for daily eating of vegetables was rated at 64% for men and 73% for women.

If the U.S. could send men to the moon in the 1960s, it is high time we up the commitment to at least go for a bronze medal in fruit and vegetable consumption. Praise the Lord and pass the broccoli.