Experts confirm what we already know: We’re eating badly, and we’re eating too much.
The U.S. in general does poorly in these rankings, and some states typically do worse than others, as well. Taken together, the numbers seem to paint a grim portrait.
But we can turn these poor showings around, with one personal choice at a time. They really do start to add up over time.
The diet of a typical American is often weighted toward unhealthy choices. We get more than the recommended daily limits on calories derived from added sugars, refined grains and solid fats. These diets also exceed recommended levels of sodium and saturated fat. Often times, the problem is simply the result of dietary choices. We don’t eat enough fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grains. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the nationwide obesity rate has doubled since 1990.
Average daily intake keeps rising, by hundreds of calories, even as we produce a surplus of available food for consumption. Often times, the extra calories are derived from very familiar places: fast-food restaurants. These franchises have more than doubled since the 1970s. The problem is made worse by an over-reliance on processed and packaged foods, coupled with sugary drinks. They’re more often consumed by those from so-called “food deserts,” where millions of Americans — including their vulnerable children – live too far away to regularly shop at a supermarket.
Sodium intake continues to be a huge issue in America, with many adults consuming more than 1,000 milligrams a day above the federal guidelines. Total fat intake has also skyrocketed, doubling since 1980. Blame often goes to soda, dairy and grain desserts, pizza and fried foods, but there aren’t always convenient choices to eat healthier. That’s led to a focus on correcting food deserts, and in addressing the growing number of families who suffer from food insecurity.
In the meantime, West Virginia (38.1%), Mississippi (37.3%), and Oklahoma (36.5%) had the highest obesity rates, while the least obese places were led by Colorado (22.6%) the District of Columbia (23%) and Hawaii (23.8%), according to the CDC. Even though Coloradoans fare best, those numbers are still up 7.6% since 1990.