How Bad is the American Diet?

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How Bad is the American Diet?
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How Bad is the American Diet?

How bad is the American diet? Read on to discover what and how Americans are eating.

According to the USDA, the average person consumed nearly 2,700 calories every day in the year 2000, demonstrating an increase of 530 calories, or approximately 24.5 percent increase, since 1970.

According to the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, the top five sources of calories for Americans ages 2 years and older from 2005-2006 were grain-based desserts (like cakes, cookies and pastries), yeast breads (such as white bread or rolls, mixed-grain bread and bagels), chicken and chicken mixed dishes (including fried or baked chicken, chicken sandwiches and chicken salads), soda/energy/sports drinks and pizza.

While some of these calorie sources provide essential nutrients, others are high in solid fats and/or added sugars such as grain-based desserts and many chicken dishes that are breaded and fried.

According to a 2004-2005 survey conducted by the NPD Group, there is an increasing trend in eating out with 15.4 percent of all meals purchased at a commercial restaurant, up from 13.6 percent in 1990. The percentage of all meals prepared at home has stayed relatively the same over the years, measured at 68.1 percent in 2004-2005 compared to 68.9 percent in 1990.

One eating pattern that is gaining attention is snacking. The percentage of adults snacking has increased from 59 percent in 1977-1978 to 90 percent in 2007-2008, and snacking provides about 24 percent of daily calories, or on average 586 calories for men and 421 calories for women.

Alcoholic beverages, sugar-sweetened beverages, savory snacks (like pretzels and potato chips) and candies account for the largest percentage of snack calories. Many of the top food and drink items consumed as snacks are high in added sugars and solid fats and low in nutrients.

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It's not news that Americans have a reputation for unhealthy eating habits that have caused an obesity epidemic, but have you taken a closer look at what Americans are actually eating as part of their diet?

Check out the slideshow above to discover just how bad the American diet is.

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