A ‘What-If’ Kind of Day…
Monday morning blues. An ecological analysis of databases by the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), World Health Organization (WHO), and World Bank finds a direct dose-response association between the adoption of a sedentary lifestyle with western dietary patterns and the global rise in diabetes prevalence. Depressing news.
What does it take to help people make healthier lifestyle choices? For years as a professor, I thought the answer was in education. This argument was undermined when the percentage of consumers who could associate foods (and nutrients) with health benefits became apparent . Consumers are more informed. 48% of adults know about the Dietary Guidelines in 2005 compared to 30% in 1995. Awareness of dietary guidance differs by ethnicity/race and age. However, the difference disappears (becomes statistically non-significant) when adjusted for other factors, i.e. health behaviors (smoking, body weight, etc), education and income.
The International Food Information Council Foundation 2014 Food and Health Survey finds consumers understand the nutrients (and ingredients) they should consume and limit. People continue to fall short of daily goals for vegetables, fruit, dairy and whole grains. Why is failure so ubiquitous?
People vote for food choices with their wallets, everyday at farmer's markets, bodegas, grocery and box stores and restaurants. Globalization, urbanization, economic development, and environmental pressures increase the need to provide more food to more people with less to sustainably feed the world. Food fortification increases micronutrient intake. Natural disasters and social unrest are very disruptive. Thankfully, many organizations help the most vulnerable. What about the rest of us?
Following dietary guidelines is best. But if we don’t, then what? What if our food security is threatened by the unexpected? What if the pantry/refrigerator/freezer has few choices? Life isn’t always as planned. Remember, multivitamin-mineral supplements can be a safe convenient way to insure micronutrient needs.
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