America's Diet Gets Graded

The Lempert Report
October 29, 2013

The CSPI recently released a report card for American’s eating habits, and guess what? We have a lot of work to do!

The CSPI recently released a report card for American’s eating habits, and guess what? We have a lot of work to do! Our intake of fruits and vegetables has barely budged, the cheese craze shows no signs of slowing down, and we’re eating 450 calories more per day than we did in 1970. There ARE a few improvements such as, a decrease in sugar, shortening, beef, whole milk, and white flour. And we’re eating more chicken and yogurt. But it's not enough. In a nutshell, Americans need to eat more veggies and and less red meat, cheese, starches, and sweets. Here’s our breakdown by grades: Meat, Poultry, and Seafood: We got a B! – While our red meat consumption is going down, it’s still higher than chicken and seafood combined. When it comes to seafood, many Americans say they just don’t know how to cook it. Retailers can help here by providing recipes, classes and demos in store to get customers comfortable with healthy, easy to cook and tasty seafood options. Also highlight frozen seafood that is easy to cook when shoppers are in a pinch. Dairy: We got a C! - According to CSPI, Americans add cheese to everything, and we’ve jumped from eight pounds per person per year in 1970 to 23 pounds. But don’t forget not all cheese and dairy are bad, there’s low fat options and let's not ignore Greek Yogurt. Perhaps supermarkets could remind shoppers of this by for example, pushing Greek yogurt as a healthy, protein rich snack or meal addition. Fruits and Veggies: We got a B! - Ok so we’re getting better here but not good enough. Why not help shoppers out by directing them to what’s in season, direct them to buy frozen if necessary (but read labels – should only be 100% fruit) and to make sure cut fruit or veg is handy as shoppers and their families will be more likely to eat it. Finally, Grains: We got a C! We are consuming almost 110 pounds of flour per year, but unfortunately it isn't from whole grains. Now we’re well into Fall, the weather is a little cooler and this is a great time for a hearty meal, so focus on whole grains – sample barley, buckwheat, brown rice, quinoa, as a substitute over bland white rice and pastas. Overall at The Lempert Report we see many solutions that can start in the supermarket to nudge shoppers in the right direction.