The U.S. Agriculture Department suggests that half of people’s plates be made up of fruits or vegetables for every meal.
That’s mostly not happening in Kentucky—23 percent of Kentuckians say they meet the dietary recommendations, according to the Kentucky Health Issues Poll released Thursday.
Furthermore, only 39 percent of Kentuckians surveyed said they consider their diet to be excellent or very good. The poll also said fewer low-income Kentuckians reported their diets to be excellent or very good compared to Kentuckians with higher incomes.
The poll surveyed 1,551 Kentucky adults at the end of 2013. It was done for the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky.
Diet, of course, is a factor in a variety of health issues, ranging from diabetes to cancer.
“Some of how we eat is our personal lifestyles and personal choices, but some of how we eat is how easy it is or how hard it is to get healthy foods where we live or work,” said Susan Zepeda, the foundation’s president.
She said poor diets may also lead to taxpayer costs through Medicare and Medicaid.
Most Kentuckians surveyed—80 percent—said it was easy to buy healthy foods in their neighborhood, including low-fat foods, whole-grain foods, fruits or vegetables. In Appalachia, 20 percent disagreed—but it was 10 percent for the other parts of the state.
Policies can help, Zepeda said. She pointed to farm-to-tables efforts and food processing centers, which help small and mid-sized farms can or jar foods for longer shelf lives.
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