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The American Diet: Who Lives Longer?

April 26, 2016
Plain English Version
Barack Obama eating a slice of carrot cake while campaigning in 2008. AFP EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Barack Obama eating a slice of carrot cake while campaigning in 2008. AFP EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

Many Americans eat a lot of junk food such as hamburgers, pizza, soda and french fries. They are staples of our diet. Almost all the experts agree that eating too much of these foods is not healthy.

Today’s news is about something else.  The accepted advice is to lower the amount of fat in diets. Now, there are questions about that advice.

The big question is, if you eat a healthy diet, are you going to live a longer life?

Researchers have taken a new look at an old study. They ran the study’s final numbers again with new methods. They found that a better diet (lower in fat content) did not lead to a longer life. In fact, those who ate a diet heavier in fats lived longer!

Experts are now looking again at how Americans eat. Like most people, Americans like flavor in their food. Flavor comes from salt, fat, and sugar. There are guidelines about how much of them to consume. But do people who follow them live longer?

The revised study seems to say no.

Americans are choosing their food with greater care. They are looking at the ingredients in their food. They are choosing foods that are less processed. For example, cane sugar over sugar substitutes.

Food companies are changing to meet the public’s changing tastes. Low-fat ice cream is giving way to higher-fat ice cream that features pure sugar as an ingredient. Labels are showing when the ingredients of products are “natural.”

Another new trend is about beef jerky. It was a low-status item. But, it provides a lot of protein at a low cost. It now is marketed as a protein snack. Sales are rising.

Nutrition experts are wary of these trends. For example, they continue to say that there are good and bad fats. But is the science wrong? The debate is just getting started.

An expert said, “At the end of the day, people want something that tastes good.”

Source: The New York Times April 22, 2016

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