Unhealthy Food but Lots of It
Oxfam, the global anti-poverty confederation, has released an index of the current state of food consumption in 125 countries worldwide, and while the United States scores well on food abundance and availability, it comes up terribly short in eating wisely and well. On the plus side, the U.S. ranks first overall in food affordability and fourth in the diversity of foods available to us. On the minus side, Americans are evidently not making healthy food choices, as reflected by our ranking in obesity and diabetes rates: 120th, ahead of just Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Fiji and Mexico. And although food is inexpensive compared to our other needs and purchases, we rank only 35th in having "enough to eat." Also unnerving, we're just 41st in having access to fresh, clean water.
B in Sugars, D in Oils, Grains
The Center for Science in the Public Interest has updated its periodic “report card” on changes in the American diet that have taken place since 1970, when the national obesity rate was just half of its current 32 percent. Among the findings: Americans still eat more added sweeteners than in 1970, but on average, 10 pounds less per person per year than in 1999; we've heavily cut our consumption of trans fats and saturated solid fats, but consume more fat-based calories per day overall thanks to a steep rise in our use of salad and cooking oils, which contain more calories per tablespoon than butter; we now eat more chicken than beef, but more beef and pork than chicken and fish; we've replaced fruit and veggies in our diet with higher-calorie and lower-nutrition baked and grain foods.