News Release
   PO 360
   Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

   For Release:
   August 27, 2001

George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., MD, MPH
Acting Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
DHSS -Marilyn Riley (609) 984-7160
Agriculture - Deborah Lawler (609) 292-8896


New Jersey Web Page Promotes "5-A-Day for Better Health"
National 5-A-Day Week is September 9 - 15

TRENTON -- It's not as hard as you might think to eat "five-a-day." To help you include five servings daily of fruits and vegetables in your diet, New Jersey has launched a web page with easy tips and recipes for using produce, helpful resources and information on the health benefits of the "five-a-day" lifestyle.

The Department of Health and Senior Services developed the web page as part of the "5-A-Day For Better Health" Program, which is jointly sponsored by the departments of Agriculture and Health and Senior Services. The web page is at

The web site lists the many health benefits of eating produce. Fruits and vegetables can help protect against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and certain types of age-related blindness, among other conditions. They can also help reduce blood pressure, control diabetes, and control weight.

"Eating more fruits and vegetables is one simple step you can take to improve your diet and health," said acting Health and Senior Services Commissioner George T. DiFerdinando, Jr., M.D. "As well as tasting good, fruits and vegetables can help you maintain a healthy weight and help prevent a wide range of serious health problems."

New Jersey's 5-A-Day For Better Health Program is part of a nationwide nutrition education campaign that encourages people to consume more fruits and vegetables. These foods are low in fat and calories; high in fiber; and high in vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals, which are health-protecting natural plant substances.

"Freshness is critical to the nutritional value of produce and Jersey Fresh produce is as fresh as it gets," said Agriculture Secretary Art Brown, Jr. "In addition to encouraging people to make more nutritious food choices, the 5-A-Day For Better Health Program helps promote the delicious variety of fruits and vegetables our farmers produce around the state, from apples to zucchini."

Dr. DiFerdinando noted that the Department of Health and Senior Services has documented New Jersey's rising levels of overweight and obesity. More than half of New Jerseyans are now considered overweight or obese, according to survey data from the New Jersey Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

"This is a serious public health problem, and one that most people don't fully appreciate. Poor diet and lack of exercise can be deadly. Combined, they are the second leading cause of preventable death," Dr. DiFerdinando said. "The good news is that we can all do something about it. In fact, New Jerseyans already eat, on average, four servings of fruits and vegetables a day. We're very close to achieving our five-a-day goal."

The departments of Agriculture and Health and Senior Services have been working to make sure more people can reap the health benefits of produce.

"We're proud of the fact that we've made locally-grown produce available to lower income families and senior citizens. These groups can benefit dramatically from the addition of fresh produce to their daily diets but, for a number of reasons, they are often the least likely to be able to purchase them," said Secretary Brown.

"Through our partnership with the department of Health and Senior Services, we created the Women, Infants and Children (WIC)/Farmers Market Nutrition Program. This program issues coupons eligible participants can redeem for Jersey Fresh fruits and vegetables at authorized markets," Brown added.

Currently, 29 percent of New Jersey adults met the five-a-day goal, according to data from the department's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System. Easy ways to include more fruits and vegetables in your diet include: adding fresh fruit to your cereal in the morning; drinking 100% juice instead of soda, coffee, or tea; picking up a piece of fresh fruit during break time; or visiting a salad bar for lunch.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the National 5-A-Day for Better Health campaign. National 5-a-Day Week is September 9 - 15, and the theme of this year's national campaign is "5-A-Day - Yes You Can!"

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