News Release 

Modest improvements in diets of US adults but still too much sugar, saturated fat


Bottom Line: U.S. adults made modest improvements to their diets in recent years but still eat too much low-quality carbohydrates and saturated fat based on an analysis of nationally representative survey data. The study included data from nearly 44,000 adults who reported their dietary intake in a 24-hour period. Researchers report a decline in the consumption of low-quality carbohydrates (primarily added sugar) and increases in high-quality carbohydrates (primarily whole grains), plant protein (primarily whole grains and nuts) and polyunsaturated fatty acids from 1999 to 2016. However, intake of low-quality carbohydrates and saturated fat remained high. There was slight improvement in overall diet quality as assessed by a measure of adherence to key recommendations in dietary guidelines. A limitation of the study is its use of self-reported dietary data.

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Authors: Zhilei Shan, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston, Fang Fang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., Tufts University, Boston, and coauthors


Editor's Note: The article includes conflict of interest and funding/support disclosures. Please see the article for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.


Media advisory: To contact corresponding author Zhilei Shan, M.D., Ph.D., email Chris Sweeney at To contact corresponding author Fang Fang Zhang, M.D., Ph.D., email Siobhan Gallagher at The full study and editorial are linked to this news release.

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