Fresh fruits and vegetables, besides providing various nutrients help prevent obesity. Various surveys report that 33 percent of all children are obese.
Researchers at the University of Alabama,Birmingham, undertook a study in 2004 to zero down on obstacles that prevent children from consuming fresh fruits and vegetables. They have concluded that high cost is not a barrier for low-income families to consume healthy diet. It was earlier thought that the high cost of fresh produce is an obstacle to poor families to eat a healthy diet, and was the cause behind a large number of obese children in low-income families.
The researchers have now found that this may not be the reason. They have found that most low-income households did buy fruits and vegetables though not the same variety of produce bought by affluent people.
Low-income homes depend upon produce such as potatoes, green beans, lettuce, corn and orange juice for their vitamins and minerals. Highly priced produce such as pears, squash and whole grapefruit were found only in few low-income homes.
'There is a perception that the cost of fruits and vegetables is a barrier to their consumption, particularly in lower-income families,' said Jamy Ard, M.D., assistant professor of nutrition sciences at UAB and the study's lead author. 'Our study of homes with school children showed that fruits and vegetables, particularly lower-cost varieties, were widely available.'
Ard concluded, 'African American children had access to the same amount of fruits and vegetables as whites, although the types available varied due to cultural distinctions.'
Dr. Frank Franklin, professor of pediatrics and principal investigator of the study said, 'If removing barriers to children eating more fruit and vegetables was the goal then perhaps researchers should ask themselves how easy it is for children to carry a snack of orange juice in their pocket versus a pear.'
It appears more research is needed to find out how to increase the consumption of fresh produce instead of packed snacks in children.