Food & Nutrition

What do Americans eat?


As this Monday note falls on American Independence Day, I thought we could look at what Americans eat. I asked Nina Teicholz, founder of the Nutrition Coalition, for the best data on food intake. Nina explained that the data are not ideal or particularly current, but the best document is probably “U.S. Trends in Food Availability and a Dietary Assessment of Loss-Adjusted Food Availability, 1970-2014” by Jeanine Bentley, published in January 2017 (Ref 1).

This document is a USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) publication. The approach taken was as follows. Food available for consumption was assessed using the data in the US Department of Agriculture (Economic Research Service’s Food Availability) system. This was adjusted for food lost (food spoilage, plate waste and other losses) to give an estimate of food consumption per person. The loss-adjusted food availability was then compared with the recommendations in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The document then reported whether Americans are, on average, at, above or below dietary recommendations for fruit, vegetables, grains, protein foods, dairy, added fats and oils, and added sugars and sweeteners.

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