The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) gave a report card to Americans following a study that produced a report called “The Changing American Diet”. Unfortunately, the report wasn’t necessarily a good one. It stated that Americans have “a lot of work to do” in order to be able to ensure that they are eating toward a healthy future.
The most current grade did show that calorie consumption overall is slightly down, which is a positive note, but everything else wasn’t as optimistic. The CSPI gave the following grades to the average American diet in terms of the regular foods being consumed:
• Meat, Seafood, and Poultry – Grade: B
Red meat consumption is certainly on its way down, but it remains higher than seafood and chicken combined. It was not noted in the study whether or not people were improving the grade of red meat that they were eating (for example, switching to leaner cuts), but judged only red meat as a whole. Moreover, it did not note whether seafood was being consumed in the healthiest way or if it was being deep fried, for example.
• Dairy – Grade: C-
The CSPI has said that cheese is being added to far more foods. In 1970, the average person consumed 8 pounds of cheese per year, whereas the current rate is more than three times higher, at 23 pounds per person, per year. Low fat yogurt has also exploded in consumption.
• Grains – Grade: C
Although the average American diet includes eating about 109 pounds of flour every year, the quality of the flour isn’t the healthiest, as it isn’t 100 percent whole grains. Although people are starting to think of carbs as bad because they make it harder to lose weight, they don’t seem to be choosing healthier options, only cutting back on the ones they do eat.
• Sweeteners – Grade: D+
Since 1999, the average American diet grade has fallen. This is especially the result of sweetened beverages and sodas. It has also been speculated that this might have to do with the coffee culture, as people head out to cafes for specialty coffees and other similar beverages.
• Fats and Oils – Grade: B+
Consumption has been climbing over the years, but it has included more unsaturated oils as opposed to shortening and margarine. People are still consuming far too much fat, but they are eating healthier ones.
• Fruits and Vegetables – Grade: B-
This number has been rising since the 1980s, but it appears to have plateaued recently and it has not yet reached the point where it should ideally be. Veggies need to make up a larger portion of the dinner plate than they currently do and fruit can easily replace a store bought dessert.
• Milk – Grade: B
Americans are choosing a larger amount of low fat or fat free milk, but the average American is drinking 8 fewer gallons every year than was the case in 1970.
Though some improvements are being made, there is still a long way to go until the average American diet is where it should be.