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Good Health in Region X: Part 3

Tuesday, March 17, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Crysta Maniscalco
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Written by: Alexcia Devasquez, Data & Information Specialist, NWRPCA

This month is National Nutrition Month, honoring which we will conclude our three part series addressing nutrition factors related to health and how we can support the underserved in balancing food inequity.

We have addressed facts regarding America’s under-consumption of fruits and vegetables regardless of an individual’s social determinants of health and USDA’s work to assist in helping people receiving EBT get access to food via delivery. This edition is about the effects on nutritional intake when the body also is processing excess sugars.

According to the USDA, we have enough supply of fruits and vegetables in America for Americans to get their 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day regardless of geographic and economical barriers. Helping our communities gain access to these foods is an important fight: unfortunately, it is not the only one. One of the things that it can be easy to overlook when considering access to food quantity is access to quality calories and how quality impacts nutritional intake.

First, let’s take a look back in time and see how our sugar intake has changed. Added sugar consumption has increased from 2 lbs per year per person to 153 lbs per year per person over the last 200 years1. What this translates to, is that we have gone from a ~½ tsp of added sugars a day to 19-42.5 tsp (19tsp = 1/3 cup) of added sugars per day. While the USDA recommends that the added sugar intake be no more than 10% of a 1,000 or 2,000 calorie diet which would be around 12 tsp, the Institute of Medicine found that less than 13% of Americans have a sugar intake of less than 25% while the other 87% of the population has sugar representing more than 25% of their diet2. We struggle in recognizing how much of our diet or caloric intake constitutes processed sugars.

It is not only the lack of nutrients that these meals contain that is concerning, but also, according to The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), “Nutrient intake was less with each 5% increase in added sugars intake above 5-10%” NHANES found nutrient deficiencies in E, A, C and Magnesium with higher sugar intake. Higher added sugars intakes were associated with higher proportions of individuals with nutrient intakes below the Estimated Average Requirements (EAR), but the overall high calorie and the low quality of the U.S. diet remained the predominant issue. With over 80% of the population at risk for select nutrient inadequacy, guidance may need to focus on targeted healthful diet communication to reach the highest risk demographic groups for specific life stage nutrient inadequacies.2

What I would like to examine further is the idea that there are “snacks” we consume that that almost immediately max out our recommended sugar intake. If we have a few servings of these snacks in a day, we are at that 25% sugar intake. Where do we stand if we have a normal dinner, or other full meals? I wasn’t able to find the lack of nutritional absorption rate that would occur with the increased intake, so I have created this visualization to show the scale.





2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20301013


Data Points Article Good Health Part 1: https://www.nwrpca.org/news/478672/Good-Health-in-Region-X-Part-1.htm

 Data Points Article Good Health Part 2: https://www.nwrpca.org/news/482178/Good-Health-in-Region-X-Part-2.htm

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