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Impact of Typical Rather than Nutrient-Dense Food Choices in the US Department of Agriculture Food Patterns

Published:August 18, 2012DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2012.06.360

      Abstract

      Background

      The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Patterns, released as part of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, are designed to meet nutrient needs without exceeding energy requirements. They identify amounts to consume from each food group and recommend that nutrient-dense forms—lean or low-fat, without added sugars or salt—be consumed. Americans fall short of most food group intake targets and do not consume foods in nutrient-dense forms. Intake of calories from solid fats and added sugars exceed maximum limits by large margins.

      Objective

      Our aim was to determine the potential effect on meeting USDA Food Pattern nutrient adequacy and moderation goals if Americans consumed the recommended quantities from each food group, but did not implement the advice to select nutrient-dense forms of food and instead made more typical food choices.

      Design

      Food-pattern modeling analysis using the USDA Food Patterns, which are structured to allow modifications in one or more aspects of the patterns, was used. Nutrient profiles for each food group were modified by replacing each nutrient-dense representative food with a similar but typical choice. Typical nutrient profiles were used to determine the energy and nutrient content of the food patterns.

      Results

      Moderation goals are not met when amounts of food in the USDA Food Patterns are followed and typical rather than nutrient-dense food choices are made. Energy, total fat, saturated fat, and sodium exceed limits in all patterns, often by substantial margins. With typical choices, calories were 15% to 30% (ie, 350 to 450 kcal) above the target calorie level for each pattern. Adequacy goals were not substantially affected by the use of typical food choices.

      Conclusions

      If consumers consume the recommended quantities from each food group and subgroup, but fail to choose foods in low-fat, no-added-sugars, and low-sodium forms, they will not meet the USDA Food Patterns moderation goals or the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

      Keywords

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      Biography

      P. Britten is a nutritionist, US Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Alexandria, VA.

      Biography

      K. L. Koegel is a nutritionist, US Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Alexandria, VA.

      Biography

      K. J. Kuczynski is a nutritionist, US Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Alexandria, VA.

      Biography

      L. E. Cleveland is a consultant, US Department of Agriculture, Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Alexandria, VA.

      Biography

      S. M. Nickols-Richardson is a professor, Department of Nutritional Sciences, Penn State University, University Park.