More than half of youth in the United States have poor diets, according to data published in JAMA. Researchers analyzed diet records for participants ages 2 to 19 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and scored diets based on intake of fruits, vegetables, saturated fats, sugar-sweetened beverages, and other dietary components. The authors scored diets based on nutrition recommendations, with a higher score indicative of a healthier diet. While the data showed a modest increase in consumption of whole grains, fruits, and vegetables and a slight decrease in sugar-sweetened beverages, the number of youths with poor diets remains higher. Those in the age groups 6-11 years old and 12-19 years old had the highest number of participants with poor diets at 52% and 66%, respectively. Fat intake increased from overall increases in cheese, yogurt, and processed meat, and sodium intake increased, as well. The authors call for national food policy changes to improve diet quality among youth.
Liu J, Rehm CD, Onopa J, Mozaffarian D. Trends in diet quality among youth in the United States, 1999-2016. JAMA. 2020;323(12):1161-1174.