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

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

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

The study, released today, underscores the importance of robust efforts undertaken since 2009 to improve food choices and diet quality and ensure that all Americans have access to healthy food and science-based nutrition education and advice.

“The Obama Administration is working hard to empower the American public to make smart choices every day at school, at home and in their communities,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “We have made significant progress, but our work is not done. We will continue to invest in critical programs that expand the availability of healthy, safe, affordable food for all Americans.”

If Americans were eating healthier after the recession, that is good. But will it last if the economy booms again?

The Obama Administration’s efforts to improve school nutrition are valuable to the industry, without a doubt.

But relative to this study, what was the specific data about fruit and vegetable consumption changes between 2005 and 2010?

When I asked the author of the study, economist Jessica Todd, whether the data included details on fruit and vegetable consumption, she indicated that yes indeed, there was no data on fruit and vegetable consumption during the time period but it was something she hoped to explore with future research.

That is not Todd’s fault. For all its good work on tracking nutrition choices, the lack of specific data on what actually is consumed by the nearly 50 million Americans on government food stamps is inexcusable.

While only one slice of the total picture, detailed and timely data on what Americans receiving food stamp benefits are purchasing (and where those benefits are redeemed) would help researchers like Todd provide a better picture of how consumer choices are changing over time and if the agency’s nutrition education efforts are effective.

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