SOURCE: Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)

September 30, 2016 11:27 ET

New Survey: Parents Want Tips to Encourage Teens' Fruit and Vegetable Consumption

4 out of 5 Parents Believe They Could Be Better Role Models to Improve Healthy Eating for Their Teens; 1 in 3 Parents Have Never Talked to Their Teen About Benefits of Fruits & Vegetables

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - Sep 30, 2016) - A new survey gives us insights into the barriers parents believe their teens face when it comes to eating healthier. Although most parents of teens ages 13-17 (89%) believe it is extremely important that their teens eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily, nearly a third (32%) admit they have never shared the benefits of doing so with their teens.

The survey, conducted online this month by Harris Poll on behalf of the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) among 218 parents of teens ages 13-17, found that over three quarters of them (77%) say they would like to learn about ways to help their teens eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day.

"The good news is that parents know that their teens should be eating 5 servings of produce daily and want advice on how they can encourage healthy eating. Yet, we were surprised that parents don't understand why eating more produce is good for teens," said Elaine Auld, CEO of SOPHE

About 1 in 5 adolescents is obese, with rates even higher in some parts of the country. Children and teens that are obese are likely to be obese as adults, increasing their risk of heart disease, cancer, and other chronic conditions. Eating more fruits and vegetables can help manage weight and provide the important vitamins and minerals adolescents need, especially while their bodies are still growing.

"SOPHE is part of a national grant-funded project to help teens, parents, and communities improve access to healthy food and decrease their chronic disease risks," said Auld. "For example, we are working with local groups to modify how schools select and prepare food, increase availability of farmers' markets and fresh produce, and add more options for physical activity."

According to the survey, parents also realize they need to model healthy behaviors. More than 4 in 5 parents of teens (82%) said they could be better role models by eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day themselves. 

An overwhelming number (93%) of parents of teens cited different strategies for promoting more fruit and vegetable consumption by their teens to be useful. The following are the top 3 strategies mentioned by parents of teens:

  • Having a bowl of fruit and/or vegetables out on the counter for easy access - 50%
  • Bringing teens with them to the grocery store to pick out fruits and vegetables - 44%
  • Involving teens in cooking meals that include fruits or vegetables - 44%

More than 4 in 5 parents (81%) say their teens face barriers that prevent them from eating at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. Factors such as taste (39%), cost (37%), and time (25%) were cited. Busy schedules can make it difficult to prepare meals or snacks that include fruits and vegetables and teens may be opting for more convenient on-the-go options.

There are some ways to counter that, notes Auld. Here are a few creative ways parents can help increase daily consumption of fruits and vegetables by teens:

  • Provide already packaged fruits like bananas, oranges, grapes, and apples
  • Prepare grab-and-go packets of fruits and vegetables to take on busy days
  • Ask for healthier alternatives such as 100% juice when eating out.

Another way is to include produce in teens' favorite foods -- such as topping pizza with broccoli, black beans or pineapple. For more tips and information on what parents can use to encourage their teens to eat more fruits and vegetables daily, see

Infographic available: Download "justveggin" -- the infographic lists 30 ways to add fruits and vegetables to typical foods many teens enjoy, like pizza, tacos and hamburgers.

Additional tips available: Download print-ready article -- article available for reprint.

The survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Society for Public Health Education between September 7-9, 2016 among 218 U.S. adults ages 18+ who are parents of teens ages 13-17. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. For complete survey methodology, including weighting variables, please contact: Brigitte Johnson, SOPHE, 202.408.9804,

About the Project
This is part of a larger initiative by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)'s National Implementation and Dissemination for Chronic Disease Prevention to increase the nation's quality of life and well-being by preventing and controlling chronic diseases, like diabetes and heart disease, through population-based strategies at the community level. Five national organizations, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, American Planning Association, Directors of Health Promotion and Education, National WIC Association and SOPHE, are implementing this three-year program in 100 communities across the country in 37 states with $28 million in funding provided by the CDC. The survey was funded as a result of these efforts.

About the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE)
SOPHE is a nonprofit professional organization founded in 1950 to provide global leadership to the profession of health education and health promotion and to promote the health of society. SOPHE's 4,000 international and chapter members work in various public and private organizations to advance health education theory and research, develop disease prevention and health promotion programs, and promote public policies conducive to health. For more information, visit

Funding for this project was made possible by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The views expressed in written materials or publications do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Department of Health and Human Services, nor does the mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.

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