Yes, we have no banana data; USDA diet study lacking in specifics

01/16/2014 12:53:00 PM
Tom Karst

Tom KarstYes we have no bananas”  was a Number One hit from the 1920s, a catchy tune that apparently puts a positive spin on the dearth of bananas offered by the produce seller.

 To refresh your “memory,” here are the lyrics:

“Yes, we have no bananas

We have-a no bananas today

We’ve string beans, and onions

Cabashes, and scallions,

And all sorts of fruit and say

We have an old fashioned tomato

A Long Island potato But yes, we have no bananas

We have no bananas today”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture had their “no bananas” moment for me today. I had dialed in to a teleconference on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s report on “Changes in Eating Patters and Diet Quality Among Working Age Adults, 2005-2010” 

The study found that, on average, that daily caloric intake declind by 118 calories (about 5%) between 2005-06 and 2009-10 among working age adults. Tucked within that time period, of course, was the “Great Recession" of 2007-09. How did consumers adjust their diet and their food budget with less income to spend?

Interestingly, the study found food away from home intake fell by 127 calories per day, and the share of calories from food away from home dipped by 4.75%, from 34.7% in 2005-06. Likewise, daily fast food calories fell by 53, according to the study, and the share of calories from fast food declined from 1.8%, from 14.4% in 2005-06.

The study found that the quality of both at home food and away from home foods - in terms of saturated fat and fiber content - increased between 2005-06 and 2009-10. Using regression analysis, study author Jessica Todd said that bout 20% of the gains in diet quality over that time period were linked to declines in food away from home consumption.

So fewer fast food burgers and fries accounted for just a fifth of the diet improvement; what else was at play? The study suggested that individuals were taking more responsibility for their weight, greater awareness of nutrition during shopping, and perhaps greater attention to the Nutrition Facts Panel.

In a news release from the USDA, Administration officials were not bashful about claiming some of the credit, at least, for the evidence of improved diets for Americans, even if the data period would suggest minimal impact of White House programs like Let’s Move. From the release:


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