Daily Calorie, Carbohydrate Intake Has Increased Over Past 30 Years, CDC Study Finds
Between 1971 and 2000, U.S. residents' daily caloric intake rose by more than 7% on average for men and 20% for women, and a greater portion of the extra calories was obtained from carbohydrates, according to a CDC study published Thursday in the agency's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the New York Times reports (O'Connor, New York Times, 2/6). Over the course of the study, CDC epidemiologist Jacqueline Wright and colleagues asked men and women between 20 and 74 years old to recall everything they had eaten in the previous 24-hour period (McKay, Wall Street Journal, 2/6). They found that between 1999 and 2000, women consumed 1,877 calories a day on average, or 22% more calories than their average daily consumption between 1971 and 1974. Men's caloric intake increased by 7% to 2,618 calories per day over the same period, researchers found (Wahlberg, Cox/Houston Chronicle, 2/6). In 2000, women on average consumed 335 more calories each day than women in 1971 did, and men ate 168 more calories each day in 2000 compared with men in 1971 (AP/Baltimore Sun, 2/6). Federal dietary guidelines for sedentary adults recommend that most women consume 1,600 calories a day and most men consume 2,200 per day (Cox/Houston Chronicle, 2/6). Researchers found that most of the calorie increases were due to increased carbohydrate consumption. Among women, carbohydrate consumption increased from 45% of the total daily caloric intake to nearly 52%, and carbohydrate consumption among men increased from 42% to 49% of their daily caloric intake (New York Times, 2/6).
U.S. Department of Agriculture data from about the same 30-year period as the CDC study indicate that consumption of salty snacks, soft drinks and pizza also has increased. In addition, the data indicate that food portions have increased (Wall Street Journal, 2/6). Researchers said that most of the increase in caloric intake happened between 1976 and 1980 and between 1988 and 1994 -- the same period during which an earlier report by Dr. Lisa Young of New York University found that national restaurant chains' food portions became two to five times larger. The CDC study found that the percentage of fat in U.S. residents' diets is decreasing. However, because of the increase in caloric intake, researchers noted that people are still consuming the same total amount of fat as they did in 1971 (New York Times, 2/6). The study also found that the percentage of protein in diets has slightly diminished (Cox/Houston Chronicle, 2/6). It is unclear whether the study will influence the revision of USDA's food pyramid, which emphasizes a diet rich in breads and grains, Wright said. She added that saturated fat consumption is still a health concern and that the study should not be taken as direct support for any low-carbohydrate diets (New York Times, 2/6). The study is available online.
U.S. residents are starting to exercise more, but the increase is not significant enough to improve health, according to a separate CDC study published Thursday in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Cox/Houston Chronicle reports (Cox/Houston Chronicle, 2/6). Researchers surveyed residents in 35 states and the District of Columbia about their exercise habits and found that between 1988 and 2002, the number of adults reporting that they engaged in moderate activity -- such as brisk walking, golf or gardening -- at least once a month increased from 68% to 75%. The government aims to increase the percent of active people to 80% by 2010 (Wall Street Journal, 2/6). The study is available online.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.