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.

 

16 thoughts on “New US Food Availability Data

    • I’m confused by the figures in the article. The reference listed is U.S. Trends in Food Availability and a Dietary Assessment
      of Loss-Adjusted Food Availability, 1970-2014, which found that AMericans consumed more dairy – especially cheese – and significantly more fats and oils. Doesn’t this mean they HAVEN’T followed the message to reduce fat intake, but have increased both fat and carbohydrates?

      • Americans do consume slightly more dairy (due mainly to increase in cheese consumption), and this could be consistent with the guidelines if that cheese is all low-fat (unlikely given that so much of cheese sold is not low-fat). The increase in oils is due to the enormous increase in the consumption of vegetable oils, which is also consistent with guideline recommendations–which say to increase consumption of polyunsaturated oils. Consumption of total fat has decreased since 1970.

        Nina

  1. Nina, great to find your site/blog from you Weston A. Price interview. I’d bought your book but will now place it on the top of the stack! It’s fabulous to see real investigative reporting contradicting the diet dictatorship in their own language. Thanks for your efforts and I look forward to learning from a rational voice!

  2. Numerous eating patterns around the world and historically have yielded non obese populations without significant rates of diabetes. Some ate a lot of saturated, others not so much. Perhaps not all of this change is diet related?

    • I think there is enough science now to show that nutrition is a principal driver of obesity/t2 diabetes, but it is not the only one. Sleep, stress, and hormones also drive obesity. Possibly some environmental factors as well. Exercise has a relatively small impact, it seems.

  3. Once again excellent Nina!

    However we will be told at although we have eaten what we have been told, that we have not combined the correct foods and quantities.

    You see, for that we need to consult Dieticians & experts!! ;)

    • Yes, you fail (yet again) to eat the correct dietary PATTERN. Never has eating been so complicated. Thank goodness for experts!

  4. Interesting to look at the raw amounts as well, where the major changes are, and compare with major health issues. I’d have to look up actual incidences of things like heart disease and cancer compared to 1970, but you only have look at some old photos to know that a LOT more people are obese now, and of course Type II diabetes has gone through the roof. Some interesting points from the report:
    * Protein has remained pretty much constant in absolute amount, lending some further weight to the “protein hypothesis”.
    * Added sugar hasn’t increased a great deal. The largest increases are in nuts and seeds (which includes soy, BTW) and added oils, most of which are “liquid oils”, which the report repeats as being “canola and olive oils”. But I’m sure other vegetable must be lumped in here, particularly soybean oil, which seems to appear on the label of just about every product in the grocery store.
    * In general, soy seems to sneak into a lot of categories, including dairy. It would be interesting to know the change in just soy intake from all sources since 1970.

    A couple of takeaways/questions:
    * I can come up with three obvious hypotheses on what’s driving metabolic syndrome. Added sugar doesn’t appear to be an independent factor, unless there’s some very sharp threshold for it’s effect. Sugar + fat seems like a good candidate, and makes sense based on what we know about metabolism at the cellular level, particular how mitochondria and the cell react to excess calories.
    * I have a suspicion that oxidized fats make your mitochondria (particularly those in your liver) really angry. Would be interesting to know how much of the “liquid oils” increase consists of PUFA vs. MUFA and SFA, and what the estimated percentage of oxidized fat intake is.
    * Soy seems to be sneaking in everywhere. More research is needed, but the massive amount of xenoestrogen in soy should give us pause. Hormonal disruption is almost certainly a part of what drives metabolic syndrome, and large increases in xenoestrogen intake would seem to be a red flag there.

    • Good observations and interesting questions.
      –Agree that the data isn’t sufficient to say sugar alone is the culprit. My hypothesis is that it could be sugar + excess carbs or excess wheat. Or sugar + polyunsaturates. There’s not enough science to know.
      –PUFA oxidize most easily, and there’s much we don’t know about these effects, but in Ch 9 of my book, I outline some of the scary ones.
      –Agree on soy. Huge increases in the food supply, and know very little about its xenoestrogen effects!

      • The science seems to be mounting that reactive oxygen species (ROS) molecules will trigger insulin resistance at the cellular level. This make some sense, if we consider how mitochondria function. Mitochondria transform food into ATP through a series of chemical reactions driven by electron transport. I like to think of it like the conveyor belt of chocolates in that “I Love Lucy” episode, because the electron transport is driven by the presence of food, not the amount of available ATP. If ATP is “full” but there’s still food available, the electrons have no place to go, and start leaking into the cell where they can create ROS, potentially damaging to the mitochondria, DNA, etc. It’s been observed that hydrogen peroxide (a common ROS) can induce insulin resistance in cells, which makes sense: if there’s too much food around creating these nasty ROS, then the cell should try to stop the excess food from coming in.

        Consider what happens if both sugar and fat are present in the cell. The sugar is preferentially metabolized, then the fat. When ATP is replete, electrons can leak out and react with the excess fatty acids and create lipid peroxides. Lipid peroxides are nasty, because they can cause a chain reaction where (in the presence of oxygen) one fatty acid can react with other fatty acids to create more fatty acid radicals. PUFA is obviously the most unstable in this case, so lots of sugar + PUFA would be a dynamite combination for inducing cellular insulin resistance. Note that we expect this to happen regardless of the origin of the fatty acids. The liver will accumulate fat as a result of processing excess fructose, and that fat hanging around in the liver can be a target for oxidation, leading to chronic hepatic insulin resistance, which is definitely a Bad Thing.

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