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DHS news release

March 15, 2007

General contact: Bonnie Widerburg, 971-673-1282
Technical contact: Joan Ottinger, 971-673-0984

Campaign encourages people to eat more fruits and vegetables

This month Oregon joins a new national public health initiative aimed at getting people to increase the amount of fruits and vegetables they eat.

"Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters" launches March 19, with events planned in locations around the state. A list of activities is at the end of this news release.

The initiative replaces and builds upon the "5 A Day" program, created in 1991 to encourage people to eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day. It is the result of updated U.S. dietary guidelines, according to Susan Allan, M.D., J.D., M.P.H., Oregon Department of Human Services Public Health Division administrator.

"A balanced diet that includes lots of fruits and vegetables is a natural way to prevent obesity, cancer and chronic diseases like heart disease and type 2 diabetes," said Allan. "Research shows that people generally know fruits and vegetables are good for their health, but they need to double the amount they are eating to meet the new guidelines."

DHS health data for 2005 show that Oregonians have a long way to go when it comes to eating their recommended share of daily fruits and vegetables:

  • Only 26 percent of adults ate five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day,
  • Only 23 percent of eighth graders ate five or more servings a day, and
  • Only 18 percent of eleventh graders ate five or more servings a day.

"We are fortunate that we live where fruits and vegetables are plentiful and affordable," said Allan. "They can be eaten fresh, frozen, canned, dried or as 100 percent juice. The challenge is to build them into the menu of every meal."

The Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters Web site is a resource for consumers. It has recipes, serving ideas, shopping advice, information on different varieties of produce, and activities for getting kids involved and sharing ideas online. The new trademark also will be visible in stores and on packaging.

The Fruits & Veggies -- More Matters launch in Oregon is sponsored by the "5 A Day" Steering Committee and Oregon's physical activity and nutrition program in the Public Health Division. It was developed nationally by the Produce for Better Health Foundation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Next week 13 Oregon counties will hold launch-related events at grocery stores, schools and DHS food stamp offices. Organizers include local representatives from Oregon State University Extension Service, county health departments, the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program and Healthy Active Oregon Teams, a network of local coalitions that promote physical activity and nutrition. A variety of activities is planned:

  • OSU Extension Service will host fruit and vegetable demonstrations in Bend and Redmond DHS offices.
  • Five Lane County Albertson stores will host fruit and vegetable sampling events in partnership with the OSU Extension Service.
  • Umatilla County preschools and Head Start programs will distribute a new WIC handout, "Offering Fruits and Vegetables to Young Children."
  • The Healthy Active Hood River Coalition will sponsor events with Rosauers, a local grocer, the weekend following the launch.
  • Portland Schools, Multnomah County Health Department and OSU Extension Service are sponsoring a walk and lunch event featuring fruits and vegetables for fifth, sixth and seventh graders at Portsmouth and Clarendon schools in Portland.
  • Events also are planned in Columbia, Linn, Benton, Malheur, Marion, Wallowa, Wasco and Washington counties.

The physical activity and nutrition program is one of many public health programs within DHS that focus on prevention and helping people manage their health so they can be as productive and healthy as possible. More information is on the DHS Physical Activity and Nutrition Web site.