In findings that may surprise few, a broad comparison of U.S. dietary standards and real Americans’ eating habits found that people fall short of nutritional recommendations overall – and some groups are worse than others.
Researchers, whose results appeared in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, said that children and the elderly seemed to eat a healthier diet than younger and middle-aged adults, and women had a better diet than men. Hispanics also tended to have better diets than either blacks or whites.
For the study, researchers used responses to a large national health survey to compare what 8,272 Americans said they ate in the course of one day to what the USDA suggests they should be eating.
Each subset of people was assigned a score between zero and 100 based on the percentage of the USDA recommendation for different food groups, such as fruit, vegetables, grains, milk, meat and beans, they consumed each day.
Overall, the researchers found that children and adults as groups each scored 56, while seniors scored higher with 65, meaning they did a better job. Nobody came close to a perfect score of 100.
There were further differences when they looked at race and income.
Hispanics scored better than African Americans and whites across many different food groups, with Hispanic children getting closer to the recommended amounts of fruit and vegetables compared to white children, and closer to the recommended amounts of fruit compared to black children.
For kids, the family income also made a difference, but not with the result some might expect.
The researchers said that children from poor families were meeting more of the USDA recommendations than wealthy children in several food groups, which is possibly due to the low-income families’ participation in the National School Breakfast and Lunch Programs.
Adults, though, did seem to meet more of the USDA recommendations as their incomes increased.
What was discovered is very clear. Kids, who are in those lowest poverty groups, are doing OK, but not their parents.
Source: reuters.com; 11.29.12