Healthy Eating Index
Learn About the Healthy Eating Index
Obesity & Health
People are talking a lot about a healthy lifestyle these days. What to eat is a big part of that conversation. Although people do choose what to eat or drink, they can only choose from foods and beverages that are available to them. Where do those foods and beverages come from? Think of the trip from farm-to-fork as a food stream. Far up the stream the source is stye food supply, all of the foods that farmers produce. These foods travel from farms to various forms of processing. These foods flow downstream through many outlets before they end up on your plate. These are the places you go to buy your foods and beverages. they include grocery stores, restaurants, markets, etc.
This raises an interesting question. Does America’s food supply offer enough food and beverages to meet the recommendations set by the federal government for optimal nutrition? Essentially, are American farmers and food processors growing and preparing enough healthy foods vs. unhealthy foods that contribute to overweight and obesity rates in America? Is there a correlation? The recommendations for healthy eating haven’t changed in years. They include the basics of eating well by limiting alcohol, sugar, fat, salt, and heavily processed foods. Along with eating more fibrous vegetables and fruits, and lean proteins.
The Healthy Eating Index (HEI), published in 2010, is a scoring system designed to measure diet and food quality—that is, how closely an eating pattern or mix of foods matches Dietary Guidelines for American’s recommendations established by the federal government. Scientists from the National Cancer Institute conducted a study in which they applied the HEI scoring system in 2010 to the available U.S. food supply. Scientists examined whether the U.S. food supply is balanced enough to provide enough foods and nutrients needed to match the federal government guidelines for dietary recommendations. The federal government upgrades data every 5 years. The NCI scientists use a scoring system called HEI. This system is based on 12 key areas including total protein foods, refined grains, empty calories, total vegetables, dairy, seafood and plant proteins, whole fruit, total fruit, fatty acids, whole grains, greens and beans, and sodium. The ideal or top end of the scale is equal to 100. The foods supply from 1970 to 2010. The video above describes the results. The results are poor, ranging from a score of 45 to only 55 out of 100. Does this suggest a component of causality related to obesity? If people are buying what is grown and processed at a rate of 45% or less than is required to maintain ideal health what is the likely result?
Essentially, Americans are overwhelmed with the supply of foods that are overly processed with unhealthy fats, sugar, alcohol, and sodium. Overconsumption of foods and beverages that are within this range, as illustrated in the video, can contribute to health risk factors leading to obesity, diabetes, certain cancers, and other illness or disorders. The study suggests that people are simply buying and consuming roughly 45% of their diet composed of foods and beverages that do not meet requirements, created by the federal government, for optimal health. If nearly 1/2 of your diet is composed of unhealthy foods, what is the likely outcome?
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