Monday, July 25, 2016

Most Americans Are Eating Better

More than half of Americans were eating healthier in 2012 than they were in 1999, a new study finds.
In fact, the percentage of adults with poor diets dropped from 56% to 46% during that period. By 2012, people at more whole grains, fruit, nuts, seeds and fish while cutting back on sugar-sweetened drinks, the researchers found.

“Many Americans are starting to pay attention to healthier diets. This is encouraging, and farmers, food manufacturers, retailers and restaurants should take notice,” said lead researcher Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian. He is dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy in Boston.

Despite these gains, the number of Americans eating an “ideal” diet increased only slightly, from 0.7 to about 1.5%, the investigators found. An ideal diet includes fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains and less meat, salt and saturated fat.

Moreover, disparities persisted in the quality of diet based on race or ethnicity, education and income. Among whites, those with a poor diet decreased from 54% to 43%. But little change was seen among blacks, Mexican-Americans and Hispanics, the findings showed.

Not only did these disparities persist, but based on income, they may have widened slightly, Mozaffarian said.

In addition, Americans weren’t eating more total fruit and vegetables, and they were still consuming too much processed meat, saturated fat and salt, he said.

A poor diet leads to poor health, particularly obesity, diabetes, heart disease and some cancers. Each year, more than 650,000 Americans die from conditions related to diet, the researchers said.

Improving American’s diet goes beyond what people can do themselves, Mozaffarian said. “Government, industry and advocacy efforts are needed to improve many aspects of our food system, in particular to further promote minimally processed, healthier foods and reduce refined grains, starches and sugary drinks,” he said.

The report was published June 21 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

My Take:
Please reread the last quote from Dr. Mozaffarian just above. That is the ultimate goal. I’d like to think that this blog is an advocate for improving our food system.

Unfortunately, if you pick apart this study, the improvements are limited to white people eating more “whole grains”, not more fruits and vegetables. Now what do you use as a definition of a whole grain? I’m sure that bread in the grocery store that says “whole grain” is better than Wonder Bread, but it’s mostly advertising and working around the rules of what defines a “whole grain”.

We really need to be talking about reducing grains in our diet. However, grains like wheat, rice, and corn are cheap to grow. That is how we feed the poor and it’s what they choose to eat, because that’s what they can afford.

The Bottom Line:
Maybe the American diet is improving, a little, but it is a step in the right direction. The increase in obesity has leveled off, but not declined. Soon, the increase in diabetes will follow, but probably not decline. If either of this two health issues start to decrease, I’ll be convinced that we really are eating better.

Source: June 21, 2016 National Institutes of Health

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