The ongoing deterioration of health and the emergence of cardio-vascular diseases, obesity, diabetes and other health problems stimulated health care professionals and nutritionists to develop a totally new approach to the nutrition and food culture at large. In this respect, specialists (Diamond, 1992) stressed the negative impact of fast food as well as the contemporary food culture on health of people. Many researchers (Cassidy, 1980) revealed a close interdependence between nutrition and health problems, especially cardio-vascular diseases, obesity and some other problems. In such a situation, the solution of health problems could be found not only in the change of the environment of people, but also in the change of their food culture and nutrition. The problem of the deteriorating national health and poor or, to put it more precisely, wrong nutrition and diet, became the primary concern of many health care professionals and nutritionists, especially in the early 1990s, when the negative impact of the existing food culture and nutrition on health of Americans became particularly obvious (Diamond, 1992). Numerous researches contributed to the development of various recommendations concerning nutrition and diets, which were supposed to improve the national health and minimize the risk of the development of cardio-vascular disease, obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. In this respect, it is possible to single out the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program, which became a very popular program that gained the recognition of many health care professionals and nutritionists as an effective program which prevents the risk of the development of numerous diseases caused wrong diet. However, the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program, being quite efficient in terms of prevention of various diseases, proved to be not very effective in national terms because large groups of people turned out to be excluded of the program because of either of their unwillingness to participate, or unconsciousness of the negative impact of nutrition on their health, or simply because of the low level of income, which limited diet of some groups of the population consistently.
First of all, the problem of poor health and the emergence of cardio-vascular disease, obesity, diabetes and some other diseases disturbed health professionals consistently, taking into consideration a significant growth of these diseases in the late 20th century (Heimendinger, et al., 1996). Scientists have proved that nutrition was one of the major causes of numerous health problems along with the lifestyle of contemporary people. As a result, in response to the challenge of the development of various diseases, health care professionals and nutritionists have started to develop various diets that could prevent the development of diseases and contribute to the better health of each individual and the nation at large. In this respect, the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program was supposed to be particularly perspective because, on the one hand, it could improve the health of American population consistently, while, on the other hand, this program could change the nutrition style and food culture of Americans for better.
In a way, the milestone of the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program was revolutionary for the American food culture in the early 1990s because the main idea of the program was the introduction of larger amount of fruits and vegetables in the daily diet of Americans. What is mean here is the fact that the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program implied that Americans should consume at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day. In fact, the amount of fruits and vegetables people should consume could vary but five servings a day was a kind of minimum, while nutritionists recommended extend the consumption of fruits and vegetables to nine. In such a way, the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program promoted the consumption of fruits and vegetables by Americans and to increase the consumption of these products to five-nine servings a day.
In actuality, the essence of the program is quite logical since fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and they are high fiber but low fat and calorie. Therefore, the advantages of the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program and diet of Americans in terms of this program are obvious since Americans, who follow this diet, will consume a large amount of fruits and vegetables that will have a positive impact on the health, supply essential vitamins, minerals and other elements and, what is more, they will prevent the accumulation of fat that cause numerous health problem, including obesity as one of the major problem of a considerable part of the American population. In such a context, the wide implementation of the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program at the national level would improve consistently the national health and health of each individual in particular. The implementation of this program has already increased the consumption of fruits and vegetables from 3.0 servings in 1991 to current 4.4 servings a day in the mid-1990s at average (Heimendinger, et al., 1996).
However, the implementation of the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program was accompanied by numerous problems and revealed the exclusion of a considerable part of the population from this program as well as some drawbacks of this program. In this respect, it is worth mentioning the fact that the exclusion of some Americans from the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program was conscious and unconscious or caused by the personal choice of an individual and by socioeconomic position and cultural traditions of an individual. Hence, the program has proved to be imperfect or, at any rate, it has failed to enroll all the population of the US.
On analyzing drawbacks of the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program, it is possible to lay emphasis on the fact that the program does not take into consideration individual peculiarities. What is meant here is the fact that the consumption of fruits and vegetables is naturally accompanied by certain risks, such as allergic reactions, especially, when fruits and vegetables are rapidly introduced into the daily diet of an individual. The latter means that an individual should be aware of the procedure of introduction of new products in his or her diet, but the program stresses that people should consume fruits and vegetables at least five servings a day, regardless of their past food habits. In such a context, it is possible to presuppose that people who are not accustomed to the regular consumption of fruits and vegetables in large amount may face certain problems with digestion as well as allergic reactions and other problems, especially if they prefer consuming exotic fruits and vegetables. Therefore, the practical implementation of the program should be accompanied by the close cooperation between health care professionals and nutritionists, on the one hand, since they should consult people on the application of the program’s recommendations, and the population, on the other.
Furthermore, the implementation of the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program has revealed another problem ”“ the problem of unwillingness of some Americans to follow recommendations of health care professionals and nutritionists to introduce fruits and vegetables in their diet. In this regard, some specialists (Diamond, 1992) point out that it was mainly women who followed the recommendations and started to consume fruits and vegetables in larger amounts, while men proved to be indifferent to this program and refused to change their nutrition style consistently. However, it is men who face a greater risk of the development of cardio-vascular diseases and some other health problems, which can be prevented by larger consumption of fruits and vegetables.
Finally, African Americans proved to be the group that was simply left aside of the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program. On the one hand, African Americans were unwilling to change their nutrition style and food culture, while, on the other hand, they could not always afford buying fruits and vegetables to increase their consumption to five-nine servings a day. In addition, they were less concerned about the impact of food on their health because they were unaware of the danger their food habits represented to their health because of the lower educational level of many African Americans (Heimendinger, et al., 1996).
Thus, the National Five-A-Day for Better Health Program has a great potential since it can improve the health of Americans through changing their diet for a healthier one. However, many Americans, willingly or unwilling, were not enrolled in this program.