You were always told you to eat fruit and vegetables – and it turns out that was very smart advice! It has been well established that diet and physical fitness are strongly linked. However, high levels of physical activity can’t make up for a poor diet, any more than healthy eating can remove the need for physical activity. In fact, researchers have consistently reported that exercise alone is not likely to effectively reduce weight – a change in eating patterns is required.

Unhealthy eating is a known risk factor for many leading causes of disease, including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and some cancers. The ACSM American Fitness Index (Fitness Index) includes the percent of residents who report eating the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables as two measures of a healthy diet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Depending on a person’s age and sex, federal guidelines recommend that adults eat at least one and a half to two cups per day of fruit, and two to three cups per day of vegetables as part of a healthy eating pattern. A good diet provides the needed nutrients for strong bones and muscles that enable us to be physically active. For good health and to support fitness, focusing on improving access to and consumption of fruits and vegetables would be a great strategy for communities across the country.

How many fruits and vegetables are people in your city eating? Find out with the 2017 Fitness Index rankings. Check back in May for the 2018 Fitness Index rankings!

Authors

Terrell W. Zollinger, Dr.P.H, MSPH

Stella L. Volpe, Ph.D., R.D.N., L.D.N., ACSM-CEP, FACSM