Saturday, February 17, 2007

Diet Pattern from Another Perspective

The Economic Research Service of the USDA released food consumption data that provided the following in the overview, "In 2002, total meat consumption (red meat, poultry, and fish) amounted to 200 pounds per person, 23 pounds above the level in 1970. Americans consumed, on average, 18 pounds less red meat (mostly less beef) than in 1970, 37 pounds more poultry, and 4 pounds more fish. The types and amounts of food an individual chooses to eat not only affect his or her well-being, but also have implications for society as a whole."

In the spreadsheets online, the ERS data for 2000 includes calorie consumption of 2,739-calories each day (not including alcohol). Because the data is presented differently than the FAO data I used in a previous post, it's not an easy cut & paste into a spreadsheet to see where the calorie differences are found. After reviewing both sets of data however, the ERS data shows consumption of significantly less calories than FAO data for these items:

Added sugars ERS = 502-calories - FAO = 666-calories
Cereal GrainsERS = 635-calories - FAO = 869-calories
DairyERS = 285-calories - FAO = 387-calories

Other food consumption differences are minor, like butter is listed in the FAO data as 55-calories per day and 32-calories in the ERS data; FAO says fish in the US is 30-calories a day, the ERS says 16-calories a day.

The discrepancy is due to the calculation methods - the FAO calculates consumption based on production, imports, exports, wholesale waste and clearance from supply chain; the ERS takes that a step further and calculates estimated plate/kitchen waste along with surveys from eating habits (like what percentage of the population is known to toss egg yolks before making an omelet). In addition, unlike the FAO data which assumes, for example, "dairy is dairy" globally, the ERS bases the consumption estimate on type of dairy consumed (whole, low-fat, skim, etc.), so it more refined than the FAO data.

So, before I continue, I'm also going to present a quick scenario of a day of eating created from the ERS data since it also works out to 73% of calories from plant-based sources and 27% of calories from animal foods. Interestingly, if we use the ERS data, the calories from added sugars, cereal grains and vegetable oils now exceeds 60% of total calories per day.

So, based on the ERS dataset, the menu for a day might look like this:

1 serving frozen waffles
Pancake syrup
2-oz pork sausage
Coffee with sugar and non-dairy creamer
1 cup orange juice

Low-fat fruit yogurt
Bottled water

1 cup mixed salad greens, tomatoes, slice onion, salad dressing (composite to type)
Roast beef (3-oz) sandwich with mayonnaise, 1 slice nonfat american cheese
1 cup potato salad
1 can regular soda

1 apple
8 reduced fat Wheat Thins
1.5 tablespooon peanut butter

2.5-oz chicken breast, skinless, sauted in vegetable oil (soybean)
1 cup broccoli with margarine
1 cup brown rice (long grain)
1 cup lemonade (from powder mix)

Total Calories = 2738
Fat = 102g (34%)
Carbohydrate = 370g; Fiber = 23g; Net = 347g (51%)
Protein = 99g (15%)

The above menu is off by 3-calories, and like the FAO data menu is exact for meat, poultry, eggs, etc.

Like the previous menu, it is startlingly "healthy" if we measure healthfulness based on dietary guidelines in America - it contains low-fat dairy, reduced fat crackers, lean meats and favors margarine and vegetable oil for cooking.

Yet, it too is a nutritional nightmare - deficient now in Potassium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K; with excessive intake of sodium (63% more than recommended) and contains less fiber than recommended.

It also contains an unacceptably high 7.48g of trans-fatty acid - but hey, saturated fat only provides 8% of total calories.

I've added this post to add to our understanding of how we eat in the United States and to begin the next step of analysis of why this type of eating pattern may be directly related to our obesity epidemic and exploding prevalence of metabolic syndrome and diabetes.

We'll begin to tackle that issue next week!

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous2:34 AM

    I got heartburn only from reading this "menu". If I were eating this in that amount I would crawl on all fours from the pain. Except the meat, dairy and egg, all the items listed are things for which I found out myself that they provoke acid reflux and this before I discovered low-carb. With the theory around low-carb I had the explanations for my observations and could even make predictions based on it, food I never had checked for their heartburn property could be categorized solely on their carb content to see how they would react in my stomach, and it worked. This confirmed that the theories behind low-carb are sound, its scientific principle at its best.