Lower Incomes Lag as US Diets Improve Slightly
Americans are eating a slightly healthier diet than a decade ago, but low-income adults are falling behind in diet quality, according to a new study published in JAMA Internal Medicine. Using a Healthy Eating Index they devised, Harvard School of Public Health researchers compared eating habits from 1999-2000 and 2009-2010. Data came from national nutrition and health surveys, plus government estimates on trans fat intake. On a scale where 110 is a perfect score, US adults averaged just 47 pointsóbut that was up from 40 a decade ago. The gap between low- and high-income diets increased by two points, with low-income adults scoring six points worse in the latest data.
The Healthy Eating Index awards points for consumption of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and healthy fats. An editorial in the journal commenting on the findings cautioned that the index may not perfectly correlate with health outcomes because it puts equal emphasis on foods that may not contribute equally to health.