Background: For almost 50 y, the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has measured the caloric consumption, and body heights and weights of Americans. The aim of this study was to determine, based on that data, how macronutrient consumption patterns and the weight and body mass index in the US adult population have evolved since the 1960s.
Methods: We conducted the first comprehensive analysis of the NHANES data, documenting how macronutrient consumption patterns and the weight and body mass index in the US adult population have evolved since the 1960s.
Results: Americans in general have been following the nutrition advice that the American Heart Association and the US Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services have been issuing for more than 40 y: Consumption of fats has dropped from 45% to 34% with a corresponding increase in carbohydrate consumption from 39% to 51% of total caloric intake. In addition, from 1971 to 2011, average weight and body mass index have increased dramatically, with the percentage of overweight or obese Americans increasing from 42% in 1971 to 66% in 2011.
Conclusions: Since 1971, the shift in macronutrient share from fat to carbohydrate is primarily due to an increase in absolute consumption of carbohydrate as opposed to a change in total fat consumption. General adherence to recommendations to reduce fat consumption has coincided with a substantial increase in obesity.
Keywords: BMI; Carbohydrate share; Fat share; NHANES; USDA dietary guidelines.
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