Friday, September 24, 2010

Nearly everyone fails to meet Dietary Guidelines, suggests study

Nearly the entire US population fails to eat a diet in line with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, according to new research published in the Journal of Nutrition. The researchers, from the National Cancer Institute and the National Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, examined 2001-2004 NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data including 16,338 individuals’ dietary habits. They found that more than 80 percent of those aged 71 and above, and more than 90 percent of all other age groups of both sexes, overconsumed discretionary calories – those that come from solid fats, added sugars and alcohol. A majority did not meet MyPyramid recommendations for every food group except total grains and meat and beans, the researchers found. “Nearly everyone” failed to meet recommendations for dark green vegetables, orange vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, which were the groups with the lowest adherence to recommendations.

“In conclusion, nearly the entire US population consumes a diet that is not on par with recommendations. These findings add another piece to the rather disturbing picture that is emerging of a nation’s diet in crisis,” the authors wrote.

Young adults were most likely to fall short of recommendations for fruits, milk and oils, and those aged 31 to 50 were most likely to drink too much alcohol. Moreover, the researchers applied their findings to the US food supply, which they said has oversupplied solid fats, added sugars, and sodium, and undersupplied fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and milk over at least the past several decades.

“The stark contrasts observed between the diets of Americans as well as the US food supply and current dietary guidance underscore the need for individual- and environmental-level interventions to facilitate healthier dietary intake patterns,” the authors concluded. “Without such interventions, the diets of most U.S. adults and children will continue to be markedly divergent from recommendations, a worrisome state in the context of the obesity epidemic and alarming rates of other diet-related chronic diseases.”

Bonnie - while disheartening to read as a public health professional, it once again sheds light on the major issues with the American diet's core infrastructure. The key word to take from this study is individual. While we wait...and wait...for a titanic shift of public policy, what can be accomplished quickly is dietary education and training on an individualized level. The new health care reform legislation makes taking advantage of this more palatable because it is now covered by insurance one hundred percent in most scenarios.

Finally. I can guarantee that the majority of my clients not only meet, but exceed and improve what is required from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans for fruits, vegetables, and legumes. The other aspects of the guidelines I do not support anyway.

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