American adults are eating better, making betters use of available nutrition information, consuming fewer calories from saturated fat and eating more fiber, according to a the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The study highlights the robust efforts undertaken since 2009 to improve food choices and quality to ensure that all Americans have access to healthy foods, nutritional information and guidance.
“The Obama Administration is working hard to empower the American public to make smart choices every day at school, at home and in their communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We have made significant progress, but our work is not done. We will continue to invest in critical programs that expand the availability of healthy, safe, affordable food for all Americans.”
Researchers found that use of nutrition information – including the Nutritional Facts Panel found on most packaged foods – increased in recent years.
“We are pleased to hear that this study finds improvements in several key areas of the American diet,” said Michael R. Taylor, deputy commissioner for foods and veterinary medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “FDA will soon propose an updated Nutrition Facts label designed to provide information that will make it even easier for people to make healthy choices.”
Reduced consumption of food away from home – such as restaurant food and fast food – accounted for 20 percent of the improvements in diet quality.
Calories consumed through food away from home dropped by 127 calories per day, and the average person ate three fewer meals and 1.5 fewer snacks per month away from home. Eating at home more often was also associated with more frequent family meals.
The report also indicates changing attitudes toward food and nutrition. Compared to 2007, the percentage of working-age adults who believed they have the ability to change their body weight increased by three percentage points in 2010.
“When individuals believe that their actions directly affect their body weight, they might by more inclined to make healthier food choices,” said study author Jessica Todd, PhD., of the Economic Research Service.
Expanding the availability of healthy foods to all Americans, while providing science-based nutrition information and advice, is a key focus of USDA’s nutrition assistance programs and the Obama Administration.
In order to achieve this goal, the Obama Administration in conjunction with the USDA has provided strategies and resources aimed to empower families to make healthy food choices, including:
- ChooseMyPlate – reference tool for people living on a budget
- SuperTracker – free online food and physical activity tracking tool
- Thrifty Food Plan – provides shopping strategies and meal planning advice for savvy shoppers
- 10 Tips Nutrition Education Series – easy-to-follow nutritional tips
Improving one’s eating habits and consumption of healthy, nutritious foods will not only increase your current health status but also qualify you for a lower life insurance rate. Insurance companies consider a number of factors when underwriting a policy with current health status a key-contributing factor.