A new study offers promising news about the American diet, but we still have a long way to go, according to researchers at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston.
After examining the dietary habits of nearly 34,000 men and women over a 10-year period, lead author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian and his colleagues determined that U.S. adults seem to be cutting back on sodas and sugar-sweetened beverages and adding more nuts, seeds and whole grains to their diets. Still, it may not be enough.
“The overall diet is still far from optimal—less than one-third of American adults meet guidelines for most foods,” said Mozaffarian, who points out that although the number of Americans with poor diets has declined by about 10 percent in the last decade, most people still eat far too many processed foods and not enough fruits and vegetables.
Results were based on dietary recommendations from the American Heart Association (AHA), which focus heavily on fruits and veggies, healthy fats, nuts and legumes, whole grains, poultry and fish. The AHA also recommends limiting unhealthy fats and sugar. According to researchers, the percentage of Americans following this “ideal” diet only increased by about 1 percent during the study period.
Study authors point to a need for increased awareness and education about making healthy choices—especially when social and economic factors may limit access to certain foods. They believe part of the solution is greater communication between physicians and families.