What People Really Eat

The Lempert Report
May 18, 2023

The USDA has just issued a chart where they talk about the dietary quality of US consumers age two and above. And what they found is no surprise, that we consume more sodium than the recommendation we consume more saturated fat than the recommendation. The surprise for me is that when it comes to total fat, we're about where the recommendation should be. Same thing with calcium. We're really close, but the two deficits are really dietary fiber and iron. And USDA is pretty concerned that what we need to do is we need to beef up dietary fiber and iron. Dietary fiber is an easy one, where you're having whole grains, so that could be solved easily iron. Unfortunately, I think that this is a call to action by our breakfast cereal companies that are loaded with sugar and artificial colors and preservatives and all kinds of stuff where they're gonna put more iron in these breakfast cereals. And frankly, just be promoting it that, 'hey, we've got an iron deficiency in this country, buy more sugar coated cereals'. 

Sally: Yes. And the dietary fiber and the iron deficits for Americans are of great concern. Those are critical nutrients that we need, and particularly when we look at how much sodium we are consuming, which by the way, Phil, I know you saw in this chart, is much higher. The sodium intake is much higher when people eat in a restaurant as opposed to at home. So that is another thing to consider, but I think there's a great opportunity here for retail dietitians to get involved with their shoppers in their supermarkets and remind them that, 'Hey, we are as a society missing out on these nutrients, and so let me help you find things in the store that you can buy that puts more fiber and more iron in your diet and maybe less sodium'. 

Phil: Yeah. And the problem with having higher sodium levels, again, it's not using that salt shaker, it's as an ingredient, as a preservative, or for flavor that so many of these foods. Whether it's in a food service operation or prepared meals that we'll get at a supermarket fresh or in the frozen food case, they just have such high levels of sodium, that we've gotta be careful and soup. We still, I still, go back to the problem that so much of our soups are so high in sodium and when Campbell's soup got rid of sodium because they see the same facts that we do, sales went down because people just didn't like the way it tasted. So we've gotta break this sugar, salt, and fat addiction that we have. And as we've talked about before, starting with younger people and really training their pallets to get away from these addictions are critical.