Heard on Morning Edition
Two new reports paint a dismal picture of nutrition in the U.S. One says about 70% of products sold by the largest food companies, including Kraft, Heinz and Kellogg, are considered unhealthy.
And that’s the food that stocks a lot of U.S. grocery shelves. And new Gallup data shows just how much Americans’ diets are lacking. It’s not a new problem. But as NPR’s Allison Aubrey reports, what is new is the momentum for change.
ALLISON AUBREY, BYLINE: When you walk into a grocery store this time of year, are there certain displays that are hard to miss?
ANNA HERFORTH: Of course – all the Halloween candy.
AUBREY: That’s Anna Herforth of the T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her research with Gallup provides a new snapshot of Americans’ eating habits. It shows just how many or how few consume the variety of different recommended food groups.
“Many companies have pledged to make changes, but so far, [there’s] little progress.”
HERFORTH: What we find is it’s about 28% of Americans are eating any amount of all of the food groups recommended in the U.S. dietary guidelines.
AUBREY: Even fewer eat the recommended amounts of things like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. For decades now, as diet-related diseases, including obesity and diabetes, have increased, Americans have been told to eat better.
The problem is there’s a big mismatch between the foods we’re told we should eat and the foods that are most abundant and affordable on store shelves.
5 companies identified as worst offenders
HERFORTH: There’s been a long tradition of putting personal responsibility on individuals to choose a healthy diet. And that’s really difficult when you’re sort of fighting against the food environment.
AUBREY: It’s not just Halloween candy. Researchers at the Access to Nutrition Initiative analyzed about 11,000 products from leading food companies, including Kellogg, General Mills, Unilever, Kraft Heinz and Nestle.
They found about 70% failed to meet a healthy threshold …