The Standard American Diet is a style of eating that goes by many names, also known as the Western Pattern Diet, or the Meat Sweet Diet. Those living in industrialized nations, and increasingly in developing nations often adopt these dietary trends. This diet is characterized by consumption of refined grains, highly processed foods, many fried foods, high fat foods, high fat dairy products and large amounts red meat and processed meats. It’s a diet of convenience, high in sodium and preservatives, high in artificial colors & flavors, filled with fast-food, frozen foods, canned foods, and dehydrated boxed foods.
The most popular American foods are hamburgers, French fries, milkshakes, and pizza. Fast food, gas station food, and previously prepared foods like microwave foods and TV dinners are commonly eaten. The overall emphasis with American foods tends to focus on taste and cost, before nutritional value or other considerations. (1)
A SAD State of Affairs
The Standard American Diet is essentially the opposite of eating healthy. Also known by the acronym SAD, this diet is high in saturated fat, and hydrogenated fat, high in MSG, high in preservatives, including sodium, and low in fiber and low in fresh fruits and vegetables.
Americans are gradually spending more money on commercially prepared foods. The exact numbers vary a bit from source to source. Some sources place only half of American meals eaten at home. (2)
A Tendency Towards a Less Diverse Diet
More and more American foods are being made from wheat, corn and soy. The majority of foods that Americans consume are sweets, sugary drinks, refined grains, and animal products. Most Americans eat very few whole grains, and do not eat much produce, such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
Snacking provides a quarter of the calories in the average American Diet. People are increasing their calorie intake from snacks. In 1977 40% of the US population didn’t snack, in 2002 only 10% of the population didn’t snack. (3)
- One in four Americans eat some kind of fast food every day. (4)
- On average Americans consume 31% more packaged food than fresh food. (5)
- 65% of people in the United States over 20 years old are overweight or obese.
- Over 64 million Americans have cardiovascular disease. (7)
- 50 million are hypertensive. (8)
- 11 million Americans living with type 2 diabetes. (9)
- 10% of American’s calories are now from high fructose corn syrup. (10)
This diet has been linked to what are collectively known as diseases of affluence. Nutrient poor and caloric dense eating the Standard American Diet strongly correlates with diseases like cancer, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and heart disease. (11)
America spends more on healthcare than any other nation, yet the American healthcare system ranks only 37th. (12) Many people believe the Standard American Diet to be the main reason for the low ranking. Many believe that it is the Standard American Diet, “normal” food that is destroying the nation’s health.
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