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Americans Choosing More Low-Fat Foods


Americans are choosing to purchase more low-fat foods than they did 35 years ago, regardless if the food is for at-home or away-from-home consumption, according to the USDA. The analysis found that between 1977-78 and 2011-14, the fat content of at-home foods consumed by Americans declined more than the fat content of away-from-home foods. The fat content of food obtained from at-home and away-from-home sources was essentially identical in 1977-78, with 41 percent of calories in those foods coming from fat.

By 2011-14, the fat content of food at home dropped to 32.1 percent of calories, below the upper limit of 35 percent recommended by the National Academies of Sciences’ Food and Nutrition Board. Over the same period, the fat content of food away from home dropped less sharply to 37.4 percent of calories in those foods. Changes in fat content can occur because of different choices being made by consumers (e.g., choosing a grilled chicken sandwich instead of fried chicken), changes in product formulation (e.g., food manufacturers developing a lower fat lasagna), or both. The agency notes that easy access to fat and calorie information on the Nutrition Facts label may have led to more health-conscious purchases by consumers and also may have motivated food companies to develop lower fat products. 

Related: Emerging Global Cuisines; Baby Boomers Looking for New Snack Options.

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