How America Eats

April 29, 1988

Report Outline
Special Focus


Americans' eating habits are full of contradictions. We are aware of the health risks of certain foods and have cut our consumption of the most obvious ones. But we are still eating too much fat, too much cholesterol and too much sugar. Are we simply cheating, or are we genuinely confused about what we should eat? The problem may be as much with the way we live as with what we eat.

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After centuries of struggling to place the symbols of affluence on the table, Americans are being told that their bodies cannot survive a rich man's diet. The ideal diet, medical experts say today, would be closer to that of our caveman ancestors—heavy on plant food with occasional infusions of lean meat.

Consumer surveys show that many Americans are aware of the health risks of fat, cholesterol and sugar. Concerned consumers even say they are cutting back on the most obvious sources of fat and sugar, such as red meat and desserts. But often the diets of those who say they are cutting back are no different from those who say they have made no changes. Although some changes in American eating habits seem in line with health recommendations, others stand out as stark contradictions. Dove Bars, which contain double the butterfat of traditional ice creams, compete with yogurt as one of the fastest growing food products in the nation.

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Mar. 16, 1990  Public-Health Campaigns: Do They Go Too Far?
Apr. 29, 1988  How America Eats
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