Americans not meeting recommendations for a healthy diet

May 6, 2008

A USDA study released in March 2008, underscores the poor nutritional habits of most Americans.

The USDA examined major trends in the amount and types of food consumed in the United States between 1970 and 2005, and also estimated whether Americans are meeting Federal dietary recommendations for each of the major food groups. Findings did not bode well for the health of our nation as it showed that although food availability has increased since 1970 for all major food groups, Americans were not meeting current recommendation for a health-promoting diet in any food group:

Grains: Grain availability increased 41%. The daily recommendation for grains is 6 ounces, at least half of which should be whole grains. Americans ate 8.1 ounces of grains per person per day in 2005, of only 0.9 ounces was whole grains; almost all the grains Americans ate were refined.

Fruits and Vegetables: Availability of fruits and vegetables increased 19%. Dietary Guidelines recommend daily consumption of 2 cups of fruits and 2.5 cups of vegetables. Americans ate 0.9 cup of fruits and 1.7 cups of vegetables per person per day in 2005.

Milk and Milk Products. Availability increased 6% percent. Dietary Guidelines recommend 3 cups of milk and milk products daily. Americans consumed 1.8 cups of milk and milk products per person per day in 2005.

Added Fats and Oils. Dietary guidelines recommend keeping total fat consumption between 20-35% of daily energy intake. Between 1970 and 2005, the amount of total added fats and oils which was available for U.S. adults to consume increased from 53 to 86 pounds per person. After adjusting for plate waste and other losses, this translates into 71.6 grams of added fats and oils per person per day or 32% of calories. Sounds okay until you realize this estimate does not include dietary fats that occur naturally in foods, such as in dairy products and meats. Since Americans are consuming more meat (see below) than recommended, it is virtually certain we are eating too much fat.

Meat, Eggs, and Nuts. Amounts available increased from 225 pounds per person in 1970 to about 242 pounds per person in 2005. Dietary Guidelines recommend 5.5 ounces from the meat and beans group per day. Americans consumed more than needed in this group: 6.5 ounces of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and nuts per person per day in 2005.

Added Sugars and Sweeteners
Between 1970 and 2005, the total amount of added sweeteners available for consumption in the U.S. increased nearly 20% to a level of 142 pounds per person. Dietary Guidelines advise Americans to choose and prepare foods and beverages with little added sweeteners, limiting consumption to 8 teaspoons per day. Americans consumed 30 teaspoons per person per day of added sugars and sweeteners in 2005!

*All dietary guidelines below are based on a 2,000-calorie-per-day diet.



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