Americans with poor diet fall from 49 percent to 37 percent: Study

June 18, 2024

The proportion of Americans with “poor diet quality” has decreased from about 49 percent to 37 percent, according to a new study.

The study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine this week, found that between 1999 and 2020, “the proportion of U.S. adults with poor diet quality decreased from 48.8% to 37.4%,” an 11.4 percent drop. 

“While we’ve seen some modest improvement in American diets in the last two decades, those improvements are not reaching everyone, and many Americans are eating worse,” Dariush Mozaffarian, director of the Food is Medicine Institute at Tufts University and an author of the study, said in an article from Tufts Now, which describes itself on an about webpage as the school’s “official source for news.”

The study looked at 51,703 adults and whether they met “the targets of the validated American Heart Association (AHA) 2020 continuous diet score (based on higher intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish and shellfish, and nuts, seeds, and legumes and lower intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, processed meat, saturated fat, and sodium).” “Poor diet” in the study had a definition of “less than 40% adherence to the AHA score.”

“Our new research shows that the nation can’t achieve nutritional and health equity until we address the barriers many Americans face when it comes to accessing and eating nourishing food,” Mozaffarian said.

Another recent study found that women who are on a Mediterranean diet, which commonly includes food and ingredients like olive oil, fruits, fish, nuts and vegetables, live significantly longer. 

“In this cohort study of [25,315] women followed up for 25 years, higher adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with a 23 percent reduced risk of all-cause mortality,” according to the study, published earlier this month.