Food continued to be plentiful for most of the American population, but concerns regarding nutrition were well founded. A report by a Senate committee in 1977 estimated that deaths in the United States caused by heart disease could be reduced by 25 percent through better diets. In addition, improved nutrition would reduce infant mortality by half and eliminate or minimize the effects of other diseases. Healthful diets included more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, poultry, and fish, and smaller quantities of meat and salty, high- fat, high-sugar foods. It is not surprising that meat, dairy, and egg producers took issue with the report. Word that the American Medical Association questioned the report's scientific justification lessened its impact, but it nonetheless gave the American people reason to be more conscious of the nutritional content of foods they consumed. Such consciousness, furthered by heavy advertising campaigns, resulted in modest dietary changes. For example, sales of bran cereals and breads with higher fiber content increased significantly.
Concern for nutrition received more attention at home than when eating out. Fast-food restaurants, with satisfying but not notably wholesome or healthful fare, continued to grow in popularity. Two-income families, with only one or two children, could afford to eat out more frequently than could larger families a decade or two earlier. McDonald's restaurants doubled in number between 1974 and 1980 (from 3,000 to 6,000) and other fast-food chains also expanded.
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Publication information: Book title: Daily Life in the United States, 1960-1990:Decades of Discord. Contributors: Myron A. Marty - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 1997. Page number: 215.
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