Ample Food, Yet Poor Nutrition in America

February 26, 2015
Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

Americans are fortunate to have abundant food sources, but the flip side is the country's obesity epidemic.

Americans are fortunate to have abundant food sources, but the flip side is the country’s obesity epidemic.

With many Americans tipping the scales at obese or overweight numbers, one might imagine that adequate intake of vitamins and minerals would not be a problem. And yet, it is, according to an article published in the March 2015 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

The authors detailed typical micronutrient consumption in adult Americans with different body types. The 18,177 participants had reliable dietary records and were not lactating or pregnant.

The participants were categorized based on body mass index (BMI):

· Normal weight (<25)

· Overweight (25 to 30)

· Obese (≥30)

Regardless of BMI, Americans have historically been deficient in vitamin D, calcium, potassium, and fiber. Still, the study authors found that the obese population generally had lower consumption of 4 vitamins (A, C, D, and E) calcium, magnesium, and potassium than the normal weight population. Like all Americans, consuming a fiber-rich diet was also a challenge for overweight and obese individuals.

The nutrients lacking in the obese population’s diets are commonly found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy, the researchers noted. Indeed, obese participants’ dietary records depicted low fruit and dairy consumption.

However, participants taking supplements were less likely to have nutrient deficiencies, both through direct supplementation and a significant association with a more nutritious diet.

Despite America’s golden waves of grain and well-stocked grocery stores, Americans need to pay more attention to nutrition, the study authors concluded. They advised health care professionals to encourage obese patients to eat more nutritious foods and recognize possible under-reporting of food intake amongst them.