Americans Are Eating Less Healthily, Except at School

TUESDAY, April 13, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Taking an in-depth look at how Americans eat, a new dietary analysis reveals that no matter where people eat, poor nutrition rules the day, with one exception: schools.

The conclusion is based on surveys of 61,000 adults and children between 2003 and 2018. Respondents’ responses revealed that the quality of much of the food they received from restaurants, grocery stores, venues workplaces, entertainment venues and food trucks have remained consistently poor over the years.

But a very different picture unfolded in American schools. During the study period, children saw the low nutritional content of their school meals (as a percentage of all foods offered at school) drop by more than half, from 57% to just 24%.

“This is a very notable finding of our study,” said lead author Junxiu Liu, assistant professor in the department of population health science and policy at Icahn School of Medicine in Mount Sinai in New York City. (During the study, Liu was a postdoctoral student at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University in Boston).

“Across all income groups and levels, the nutritional quality of meals and snacks consumed at school improved significantly over the study period,” she noted.

It is no coincidence, Liu pointed out, that the study period coincided with the passage of the “Healthy and Hunger Free Children Act” in 2010, an effort by the Obama administration to fix. higher national nutritional standards in schools across the country.

And the result, Liu said, is that “school is the healthiest place for Americans today.”

The problem? On average, school meals make up only 9% of all the food a child receives in a year, researchers say.

In total, nearly 21,000 children (aged 5-19) and nearly 40,000 adults (average age 47) participated in eight successive National Health and Nutrition Review surveys spanning 16 years. . The surveys looked at what foods were actually eaten, not just what was available for purchase.

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