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Sunday, April 10, 2016

USDA study finds Americans eating less fruit and veg

The USDA ERS report contains estimates of food availability for 200 food and drink commodities. A "food" would be apple pie, packaged sliced apples, apple juice, or whole raw apples. But a "commodity" would be the raw applies that go into those foods.

This report takes data from 6 food intake surveys between 1994 and 2008 and compares the pounds consumed per person per year. The report also breaks things down by demographics.

  • Drop in fruit consumption: from 42.4 to 31.9 pounds per person per year, mostly due to eating less oranges.
  • Drop in veg consumption: 172.8 to 161.8 pounds per person overall for children and adults. 
  • Drop in dairy: from 220.5 to 211.4 pounds per person per year.  
  • Chicken consumption rose slightly, while beef and pork dropped a little across all demographics.
The slight increase in chicken consumption might be regarded as positive, however how you cook the food matters quite a bit. It would be more helpful if the report broke down chicken consumption between "healthy" ways to prepare (like baking) vs calorie-dense, nutrient-sparse "unhealthy" ways: like deep frying. Also, going out to eat will account for a significant portion of "unhealthy" consumption of almost all foods.

Data used
Data sources used were the Food Availability (FA) data and the Loss-Adjusted Food Availability (LAFA) within the Food Availability Data System (FADS) compiled by U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

  1. USDA ERS survey, March 2016. Compares two time periods: 1994-1998 and 2007-2008. PDF of full report available, HTML of summary also available for free. 
  2. USDA Food Availability Data System. All kinds of charts, spreadsheets, graphs here. 

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