New US food availability data

Americans have been following the Guidelines

The government just published a new report on American food availability, 1970-2014. This is big news! The last such report was published nearly a decade ago.

This report confirms what the last one found:
In nearly every way possible, Americans have followed official dietary advice.

Some highlights:

From 1970 to 2014, our food availability changed dramatically, all in line with the HHS-USDA Dietary Guidelines (we don’t have data specifically starting in 1980, which is when the Guidelines were launched). Note: this is availability data, not adjusted for loss and waste, which is closer to actual consumption data. That consumption data is also in the report, but % changes are not calculated, so I’ll do that and report back. I’ve done some checking, however, and can report that so far, consumption tracks closely with availability.

WE EAT MORE of all the foods that we were told to increase:

  • Fresh fruit, up 35%
  • Fresh vegetables, up 20%
  • Wheat flour, up 21%
  • Fish and shellfish, up 23%
  • Chicken (which we were told to eat instead of red meat), up 114%
  • Nuts, up 51%

WE EAT LESS OF all the foods that we were told to decrease:

  • Red meat is down 28%
    • Beef is down 35%
    • Pork is down 11%
    • Veal, lamb and mutton are down 78%
  • Eggs are down 13% (only in 2015 did the Dietary Guidelines change its policy on cholesterol, suggesting that eggs are now OK)

WE ALSO CHANGED THE FATS IN OUR FOODS, as we were told:

  • Whole milk is down 79% while lower fat and skim milk are up 127%
  • Animal fats (saturated fats) are down 27% while….
  • Vegetable fats and oils (unsaturated fats) are up 87% 
    • Salad and cooking oils are up 248%

(This data is only to 2010)

HOWEVER, added sugars are up 10%, driven by high-fructose corn syrup (up by 8,212%), not refined cane and beet sugars (down 33%). The added sugars number have actually been dropping since about 1999, but I’ll save that for another post.

Bottom line:

  • Americans have done a very good job following the US guidelines.
  • To blame obesity, diabetes, and other nutrition related diseases on saturated fats or red meat is strongly contradicted by this data.
  • To suggest that more fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, whole grains, fish and nuts will be a panacea for health are also contradicted by this data.

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Comments 10

  1. People generally used to do as told by authorities. Times changing as too many of us can’t trust them.

    Excellent conclusions

    1. Nina Teicholz Post
      Author

      Thanks! Yes, sadly, this is one area where public health authorities have clearly gotten it wrong, and it’s been very hard to change course.

      1. I don’t believe public health authorities got it wrong. I believe they were bought by Big Food and Big Ag to recommend this criminal travesty.

      2. I don’t believe public health authorities got it wrong. I believe they were bought by Big Food and Big Ag to recommend this criminal travesty.

  2. There you go, bothering the poor health authorities with the facts after their minds are already made up. Thank you for doing so!

  3. I’m a bit confused about this interpretation. The graph you posted shows an overall INCREASE in fat consumption, even while the type of fat has changed from animal to vegetable source. As well, the study notes that consumption of added fats and oils are still higher than recommended. How can one argue to a proponent of the diet heart hypothesis that persistent high fat consumption isn’t linked to cardiovascular disease incidence on the basis of this study?

    1. The “high fat causes cardiovascular disease” myth clearly singles out animal fats, whose consumption has decreased, not vegetable fats and oils (unsaturated fats) whose consumption has increased.

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