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NY times article "Study Details 30-Year Increase in Calorie Consumption"

Moms View Message Board: Let's Get Fit! (Weight Loss Support Group): NY times article "Study Details 30-Year Increase in Calorie Consumption"
By John on Friday, February 6, 2004 - 06:55 pm:

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Study Details 30-Year Increase in Calorie Consumption

Published: February 6, 2004

We knew we ate more; we knew we had gained weight. Now a new study that looked at 30 years of Americans' eating habits has pinned down how many more calories, carbohydrates and fats are eaten daily.

From 1971 to 2000, the study found, women increased their caloric intake by 22 percent, men by 7 percent.

Much of the change was found to be due to an increase in the amount of carbohydrates we have been eating. The findings may reinforce the current trend, among those sometimes known as carb-avoids, of reducing or even eliminating foods like breads and pasta.

And while the percentage of calories Americans get from fat, especially saturated fats, has decreased, the numbers might be deceiving. The actual amount of fat eaten daily has gone up. It just makes up a smaller percentage of the total caloric pie now that we are eating so many more carbs.

The study, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and reported in the current edition of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, found that in 1971 women ate 1,542 calories on average, compared with today's 1,877, while men went from 2,450 calories a day to 2,618. Those numbers dwarf the government's recommendations of 1,600 calories a day for women and 2,200 for men.

Cookies, pasta, soda and other carbohydrates appear to be mostly to blame. Among women, carbohydrates jumped from about 45 percent of the daily caloric intake to almost 52 percent. For men, they grew from 42 percent to 49 percent.

"This just confirms that Americans need to be more focused on a total calorie decrease," said Jacqueline Wright, an epidemiologist at the disease control centers and the author of the study.

Ms. Wright said it was unclear whether the study would influence a revision of the Department of Agriculture's familiar food pyramid, which emphasizes a diet rich in breads and grains. Many dietary experts have questioned whether the pyramid should remain the same.

The findings come at a time when public health officials are concerned about a national epidemic of bulging waistlines. According to the National Institutes of Health, two-thirds of Americans are overweight and one-third are obese. Between 1971 and 2000, obesity rates more than doubled, a result, many experts say, of an obsession with oversized portions.

According to the report, most of the surge in caloric intake occurred in two periods: from 1976 to 1980 and from 1988 to 1994. An earlier report by Dr. Lisa Young of New York University tied that increase to decisions by national restaurant chains to expand portions of foods like French fries and hamburgers. Serving sizes, Dr. Young's research found, became two to five times bigger in those years, and cookbooks joined the trend by increasing the portion sizes in recipes.

It is no surprise, said Dr. Gary Foster, the clinical director of the weight and eating disorders program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, that "we've become more overweight as a country as candy bars are now king-sized and sodas are supersized.

"It's much tougher to manage your weight in this environment than it was in 1970," Dr. Foster said.

Part of the problem, some experts say, may stem from the traditional dietary advice to steer clear of fatty foods. This advice, they say, helped set off an explosion of "fat-free," carbohydrate-laden foods that Americans mistakenly believed they could eat with few consequences.

"It's been the standard advice for decades that Americans should follow lower-fat, high-carb diets," said Dr. Meir Stampfer, a professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health. "But now it's backfiring. It's clear that this doesn't work because it's not as satiating and people just start eating more calories. This report doesn't demonstrate that, but the results are consistent with it."

The notion that carbohydrates can lead to weight gain has become the mantra of millions of dieters. On the Atkins program, for example, people can get up to two-thirds of their calories from fat and are allowed to eat fatty foods like hamburgers, as long as the bun is set aside.

Ms. Wright said that while she could not say what influence the popularity of low-carb diets would have on the long-term picture, the increase in carbohydrate consumption had not been as significant in the most recent surveys as it was in earlier years.

But saturated fat is still a concern, and experts are warning that the latest figures should not be taken as direct support for any of the low-carb diets. Instead, Ms. Wright said, they should be a reminder to Americans to eat less and exercise regularly.

Dr. Foster said: "This doesn't tell us anything about the effectiveness of any one dietary approach. It suggests that we've been eating more calories over time and that most of it is coming from carbs. But particular diets need to be tested and supported by clinical trials."

By John on Saturday, February 7, 2004 - 09:37 am:

Charts from the article:

Pictures from Article

By Feona on Sunday, February 8, 2004 - 08:15 am:

Bump. Interesting article dh.

By Brandy on Sunday, February 8, 2004 - 09:12 am:

Sorry noone else has responded yes it is a interesting article.Not many people seem to read this board on the weekends i think most people take the weekends off i try too lol.

By Gammiejoan on Sunday, February 8, 2004 - 07:44 pm:

This is an interesting article, John. I keep wondering why they don't consider revising the food pyramid. I am on the South Beach Diet now, and thus far I'm very excited about my results.

By Feona on Monday, February 9, 2004 - 07:31 am:

I so agree. I now think the food pyramid is totally wrong and respondsible for alot of death and misery in this country.

When I get an opinion, I certainly get an opinion.

If the government admitted to being wrong now, they might be sued.

Still down 12 pounds from where I was and I just watch the carbs alittle now.

By Familyman on Monday, February 9, 2004 - 11:36 am:

The food pyramid isn't totally wrong. It's calorie consumption above that recommended that is wrong. Look at the article. Women are averaging 277 more calories a day than recommended and men are eating 418 more a day than recommended.
If you try to use to toaster to cook a pot roast and it doesn't work does that mean that it's a crappy toaster or that you're using it wrong?
It takes about 3500 extra calories to add a pound of fat, at 277 extra calories a day, you get that in 12.6 days of eating if you eat the average. That's almost 29lbs a year from eating above the pyramids recommendation. If you abuse the food pyramid and eat way above and beyond it then of course it will fail. People talk about how it has too many carbs. Well, it also has a TON of fruits and vegetables. Very very few people eat what's recommended every day in fruits and vegetables, pyramid abuse again.
The pyramid itself isn't bad, if you eat by it. The problem is that nobody does, they eat what tastes good and let the chips fall where they may. Then when the whole popluation is fat they try and blame the government for bad recommendations when they weren't eating within those recommendations in the first place.

By John on Monday, February 9, 2004 - 04:19 pm:

I think you're right that the problem is that people are eating too much. The question is Why?
Have we all just decided to overeat in the last 20-30 years?

In Dr. Stampfer's opinion (quoted in the article) the reason people are eating more is because what they have been told to eat isn't satisfying their hunger:

"It's been the standard advice for decades that Americans should follow lower-fat, high-carb diets. But now it's backfiring. It's clear that this doesn't work because it's not as satiating and people just start eating more calories. This report doesn't demonstrate that, but the results are consistent with it."

Apparently the professor that chairs Harvard's Departments of Nutrition and Epidemiology has been trying to get the government to change the food pyramid for several years:

By Eve on Monday, February 9, 2004 - 07:11 pm:

I think fast food is largely to blame! I'm 30 and I can tell you when I was little, I don't remember eating at McDonald's. I remember eating out of our garden and eating all natural. I remember my Mother making her own bread and flour. So, I think life has changed. I know, up until recently, I didn't really think too much about what I ate. I knew what was bad, but it just didn't really make any difference to me. Now, having turned 30, and having a DD, I realize I need to start really taking care of myself and my family.

I still think you just have to make better choices. I think low carb is fantastic for a lot of people. I wish I could have stuck to it. My aunt has been following the diet for 7 years and her cholesterol is lower than it has been in years!

I think if you give up the white bread, ice cream, soda, hydrogenated oils, and a lot of the processed foods that are out there, anyone would feel better. I do agree with the good fat/ bad fat still. I couldn't live without my olive oil!

I think Seth does make a good point as far as Calories go. I think if Americans also CUT portions, the food pyramid wouldn't be an issue.

It's really interesting though, isn't it? It will be worth watching to see what happens in the coming years....

By Feona on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 06:00 am:

I definitely don't think curbing your carbs is right for everyone at all. But it might be somethings someone might want to look at if they want to decrease their weight.

Actually I just think people curb the carbs a little bit the weight slowly floats off. So I am not a fanatic no carber, which doesn't exist actually. I don't think you can live without carbs.

Carbs definitely make you hungry. Test

Use same amount of calories.
On different days before lunch or dinner eat.
One day eat potato chips or white bread
the next day eat cheese or favorite protein snack. Write down how hungry you are before and after.

I just have seen how easy it was to lose 12-14 pounds and how easy it has been for my husband and his sister so I am a convert.

There is a huge lobby in this country from the grain industry to make us eat more grains!

Just think about hydronated oil which they now say is very bad for you. Corn oil. Margarine. Made from stuff they don't know what to do with. Give it to the cows.

Just remember everything is about money!

Also the food pyramid treats things loaded with sugar like breakfast cereal the same as whole wheat fiber rich bread.

Test how you feel after white bread one day the super whole wheat bread another day.

Low fat products are loaded in sugar (A carb) Wonder why people are eatting the whole box?

Actually all these companies want us to eat our brains out. How can they encourage us to do this? Putting lots of sugar and hydronated oil and empty white flour in everything. Empty calories don't satisfy so you eat more.
Pretty easy formula. Add some salt and some msg for good measure. Some preservatives made from gasoline. Food colorings made from gasoline. Half the grocery store is loaded with these products.

The range a woman can weigh and be so called normal weight is pretty wide.

By John on Tuesday, February 10, 2004 - 11:23 am:

I don't know if my story is different than the others on this board but...

Several years ago I began to avoid eating meat thinking I was doing something good for my health.
Feona can probably elaborate but the sight of a raw steak would literally ruin my appetite for a meal.

My typical weekday meals would be like this:

Big glass of orange juice
Low fat Granola cereal with a banana
Lofat milk

Tofu chinese food with vegetables (avoid meat) or
Pasta dish like linguini or cheese tortellini my favorite or
Garden burger (no meat)
Fruit Juice to drink
No dessert

Pasta (linguini) with tomato sauce or
Lasagna (anything Italian ;) )
I would only eat corn or peas as a vegetable.
Fruit juice or low fat milk to drink
2-3 Fruits (oranges, banana, or plums)
Dessert (eclairs and Danish were my favorite!)

I'd never touch eggs (thought they were bad for me?), never eat hamburger (ugg!) and rarely if ever touched fast food.

Some of my favorite snacks on the weekend were toasted Lender's bagels with butter and occasionally (though not eccessively) Doritos (no dip). I rarely snacked at work.

Feona would always joke with me that I always ordered the cheapest thing on the menu when we went out (PASTA!!!)
I also loved mashed potatoes and corn when went out for dinner...

Between age 30-43 I steadily put on weight until I weighed near 250. I had boarderline high blood pressure (140/85) My cholesterol was 250 and tryglicerides 300+.
My normal body temperature hovered around 97 degrees (indicating low metabolism).
I tired easily, felt drowsy after every meal and didn't have enough energy to play with my son, let alone exercise.
I also felt lethargic (blue) most of the time. Not full fledged depression, just kind of down.

I tried cutting out sweets without changing the rest of my diet to lose weight but it had NO effect.

Now after 6 months on a reduced (though not low) carb regimen I've lost 50 lbs, my blood pressure is 110/70, my cholesterol is down 50 points, and my triglycerides are down 230 points. My body temperature is now near normal 98.6 degrees or above.

I've lost 7 inches off my waist (43 to 36) have tons of energy and have started exercising again (walking and calestenics). My mood actually improved significantly in the first month or two, long before I had lost a significant amount of weight.

My meals yesterday:

Eggs with Aspergus (sp) and cream sauce (from the Zone diet)
2-3 oz of Cantalope
Potassium and Vitamin supplements
Fiber supplement in water with touch of OJ

Basil Beef with oriental vegetables, no cornstarch(Vietnamese)
Potassium and Vitamin supplements

Mesculin (sp) Salad with plum tomatoes and full fat Caesar dressing
Corned beef slices
Chunks of white meat Chicken
Small Tangerine and small apple
Piece of chocolate for Dessert (5g carbs)
Potassium and Vitamin supplements
Fiber supplement in water with touch of OJ

Results may of course vary ;)

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