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Average American Diet Not Healthy and Needs Improvement
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American Diet Study

The American diet needs improvement-so indicates the USDA's Healthy Eating Index (HEI), which reported an average score of 63.6 of a possible 100 for the 1994-96 period. But are Americans interested in improving their diet?

Diet Study Results
Twenty-three percent of the people surveyed were interested in improving their diet, compared with 37 percent who were not interested and 40 percent who believed their diet needed no improvement. Whereas 20 percent of those who were interested in improving their diet were non-White, 7 percent of those not interested and 8 percent of those who said their diet did not need improvement were non-White. Sixty-three percent of those interested in improving their diet were female.

Diet Study - Pyramid Food Groups
Among the components related to the Pyramid food groups, Americans' scores were lowest for fruits. Among the moderation components, the scores for cholesterol were best. Over a 14-day period, Americans interested in improving their diet, compared with those who believed their diet needed no improvement, had lower daily mean scores for grains (5.21 vs. 5.84), fruits (2.62 vs.3.82), and vegetables (5.16 vs. 5.84). A similar pattern existed for total fat and saturated fat. Dairy and sodium scores differed among all groups, with those who wanted to improve their diet having the lowest dairy score (4.59) and the highest sodium score (7.38). Meat scores were similar for all groups.

Diet Study Conclusion
Results show that people know their diet is poor. Some believe their diet needs no improvement; and yes, their diet is better than that of their counterparts. However, although people's attitude about improving their diet differed, they have one thing in common-their diet needs improvement.

Source: Publication of the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion

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