25% Of All Vegetables
Eaten By Americans
Are....French Fries
By Lori Wiechman
AP Writer
ATLANTA (AP) -- A study says Americans are eating almost 20 percent more vegetables than they did a quarter-century ago, but those veggies aren't green or leafy -- they're deep-fried.
Twenty-five percent of the vegetables consumed by Americans are french fries, according to Dr. Susan M. Krebs-Smith, author of a study in Thursday's edition of the journal Cancer.
The study said Americans have improved their diets since the early 1970s but need to eat even better to help reduce their cancer risk.
"That's definitely not broccoli we're chewing down on," said Karen Collins, a dietitian and consultant for the American Institute for Cancer Research. "In Americans' minds, if a sandwich isn't enough, what do you add? Who would think you add some stir-fry vegetables or a piece of fruit?"
Krebs-Smith, a research nutritionist with the National Cancer Institute, said the explosion of fast-food joints makes potatoes -- especially in the form of french fries -- the vegetable people eat most. Half of all servings of vegetables Americans eat are potatoes, and half of those are french fries.
French fries contain a lot of fat and few nutrients, though they do have small amounts of Vitamin C.
"We depend on them too much. We need to move from potatoes, particularly fried ones," Krebs-Smith said.
The study found that Americans made what Krebs-Smith called modest but important improvements in eating habits between 1970 and 1995, consuming 19 percent more vegetables, 22 percent more fruit and 47 percent more grain products.
To produce the study, Krebs-Smith reviewed national food supply data, alcohol consumption figures and food consumption surveys from 1970 to 1995.
At the start of the decade, the government recommended in its Healthy People 2000 program that Americans eat more fruits, vegetables and grain products by the year 2000 and decrease their intake of fat and alcohol to reduce their risk of cancer.
The study said that fat and alcohol consumption have gone down slightly and that Americans may reach many of the objectives in the Healthy People 2000 program.
The program called for people to eat three to five servings of vegetables a day and two to four servings of fruit. The study said that in 1994 -- the latest year figures are available -- Americans ate 3.6 servings of vegetables and 1.5 servings of fruit a day.
"We're headed in the right direction, but we have a way to go still," said Cindy Moore, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and director of nutrition therapy at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.
The study also backed up previous findings that death rates for colorectal, prostate and breast cancer decreased as people ate better. But the study said those decreases could also be attributed to better screening and treatment.