Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Growing Pains Snack Foods, Mexican Fare Adding Pounds to Americans

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Growing Pains Snack Foods, Mexican Fare Adding Pounds to Americans

Article excerpt

Americans are eating four times as much Mexican food and three times as much popcorn and pretzels as they did two decades ago. We are managing to eat less fat but putting on the pounds anyway.

An Agriculture Department survey of 5,500 Americans in 1994 found that half ate no fruit on a given day. They readily passed up dark green and deep yellow vegetables, despite official advice to eat more. One in three adults was overweight. Children were getting off to a sweet start, switching from milk to soft drinks or apple-based juices.

The survey came out two weeks after the government issued updated guidelines telling people to eat more grains, consume five helpings of fruits and vegetables a day and try to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily.

Americans did report eating twice as much grain - with a great deal in the form of pizzas, lasagna and ethnic foods, such as Mexican fare, and lots of snacks. Ethnic foods included low-fat items such as salsa and rice, or fattier ones such as refried beans.

The reported tripling in snack foods such as crackers, popcorn and pretzels astonished even the industry.

"Wow!" said Jane Schultz of the Snack Foods Association, based in Alexandria, Va. The industry estimates that the average American ate 22 pounds of salty snacks in 1994, up from 17.5 pounds in 1988.

The most progress came in the fat department, where the message to lower consumption has been around the longest. Americans got 33 percent of their calories from fat in 1994, down from 40 percent in 1977-1978, but still above the recommended 30 percent.

Two-thirds of adults got more than the limit for all fats. Nearly as many got more than their limit for saturated fat, set at 10 percent of daily calories. …

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