“Almost twice as many people at low incomes have poor diets compared to people at the highest income level”
A study by Dariush Mozaffarian and members of his research team published recently in JAMA suggests that Americans are adding more whole grains, nuts and seeds to their diets and cutting back on sodas and sugary drinks, but it is partially dependent on income.
Mozaffarian and team examined trends in overall diet quality and multiple dietary components related to major diseases using 24-hour dietary recalls in nationally representative samples that included 33,932 U.S. adults age 20 years or older from 7 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) cycles (1999-2012). As a summary indicator, a diet score was constructed based on the American Heart Association (AHA) 2020 Strategic Impact Goals for diet.
The researchers found that many aspects of the U.S. diet improved, including increased consumption of whole grains, nuts or seeds, a slight increase in fish and shellfish and decreased consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. Other dietary trends included increased consumption of whole fruit and decreased consumption of 100 percent fruit juice. No significant trend was observed for other diet score components, including total fruits and vegetables, processed meat, saturated fat, or sodium. The estimated percentage of U.S. adults with poor diets declined from 56 percent to 46 percent. The percentage with ideal diets increased but remained low (0.7 percent to 1.5 percent).