If You Are What You Eat, You’re Doughnuts, Chicken, and Energy Drinks

While doing some research for an upcoming story, I actually took the time to read through the USDA's 2010 Dietary Guidelines. I always wrote it off as bunk, associating it with the sad old outdated food pyramid. But there is good stuff in it. Really. Helpful, practical stuff like insight on what nutrients we need to eat more of (potassium, vitamin D, fiber), and what to cut down on (sodium, refined grains).

It also contains loads of interesting statistics. Some were surprising, like the chart on page 12 of the "Top 25 Sources of Calories Among Americans Ages 2 Years and Older." I guess I didn't think the top source of calories in our diets was doughnut-type foods. Here are the top 10 for people over 19:

1. Grain-based desserts ("Includes cake, cookies, pie, cobbler, sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts")
2. Yeast breads
3. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
4. Soda/energy/sports drinks
5. Alcoholic beverages
6. Pizza
7. Tortillas, burritos, tacos
8. Pasta and pasta dishes
9. Beef and beef mixed dishes
10. Dairy desserts

Funny point of irony: Salad dressing is number 25, but vegetables and fruits don't make the list, other than in the form of "Fried white potatoes" (number 16) and "Fruit drinks" (number 24, not to be confused with 100 percent fruit juice, its own item).

And kids? Pizza and desserts are king. The top 10 for children and adolescents 2-18:

1. Grain-based desserts ("Includes cake, cookies, pie, cobbler, sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts")
2. Pizza
3. Soda/energy/sports drinks
4. Yeast breads
5. Chicken and chicken mixed dishes
6. Pasta and pasta dishes
7. Reduced fat milk
8. Dairy desserts
9. Potato/corn/other chips
10. Ready-to-eat cereals

Does this reflect your eating patterns at all? I will admit I am probably guilty of the "alcoholic beverages" calorie factor.

Do you think the data is an accurate reflection of America's diet?

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