The American diet report card is out, and “we have a long way to go to meet dietary recommendations,” says study author Shilpa Bhupathiraju of Harvard Medical School in Boston.
Americans’ diets are slowly improving, but we’re still scarfing too much junk, according to the Harvard report card on the nation’s eating habits. Researchers examined the diets of nearly 44,000 adults from 1999 to 2016 and observed some positive trends.
Over the study period, the typical American went from getting 52.5% of daily calories from carbohydrates to 50.5%. Added sugars fell from 16.4% to 14.4% of daily calories, possibly, they say, because we’re drinking fewer sugary sodas.
But the report states that the American diet is still heavy on foods that can fuel heart disease, diabetes, obesity and other ailments. Low-quality carbs, such as sugar and white bread, and starchy vegetables make up 42% of daily calories. We get 12% of our daily calories from saturated fats—the recommended limit is 10%—because of our high consumption of red and processed meats.
The report concludes that we can do something about it: increasing intakes of whole grains, whole fruit, non-starchy vegetables, nuts and legumes.