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Profiling Food Consumption in America | 17

cheeses, including cheese blends tailored for use in Italian and Mexican recipes— also boosted consumption.

  • and Swells Use of Salad and Cooking

Oils and Shortening

Americans’ mid-1990s push to cut di- etary fat is apparent in the recent per capita food supply data, which show a modest (8 percent) decline in the use of added fats and oils between 1993 and 1997, from 69 pounds (fat-content basis) per person to just under 64 pounds. As a result of consumer concerns about fat and mandatory nutrition labeling begin- ning in July 1994, food processors intro- duced over 5,400 lower fat versions of foods in U.S. supermarkets in 1995–97, according to New Product News, a trade magazine based in Albuquerque, NM.

But the decline in average consumption of added fats was short lived. Between 1997 and 2000, per capita consumption of added fats jumped 17 percent, from 64 pounds per person to 74.5 pounds. Fat plays an important role in enhancing the flavor of foods. Many consumers found the taste of the new low fat (3 grams of fat or less per serving) and fat-free ver- sions of foods unacceptable. Accordingly,

many companies reformulated their low-fat and fat-free products in the late 1990s, adding some fat to improve taste. Some consumers, who rejected the low- fat and fat-free versions, have accepted reduced-fat products (1/3 less fat than full-fat versions). Many other consumers have resumed eating full-fat versions. According to a 2000 Roper Reports survey of a nationally representative sample of 2,000 Americans 18 or older, the percent- age of Americans who say they are eat- ing “pretty much whatever they want” was at an all-time high of 70 percent in 2000, up from 58 percent in 1997.

Although Americans apparently have re- laxed their efforts to curb consumption of added fats, they are choosing to eat healthier fats. Olive oil and canola oil— high in heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that lower blood levels of bad choles- terol but not good cholesterol—captured 23 percent of the salad and cooking oil

market in 2000, up from less than 4 per- cent in 1985.

Average use of added fats and oils in 2000 was 67 percent above annual aver- age use in the 1950s (table 2-3). Added fats include those used directly by con- sumers, such as butter on bread, as well as shortenings and oils used in commer-

cially prepared cookies, pastries, and fried foods. All fats naturally present in foods, such as in milk and meat, are excluded.

Americans in 2000 consumed, on aver- age, three-and-three-fifths times more salad and cooking oil than they did an- nually in the 1950s, and more than twice as much shortening. Average use of table spreads declined by 25 percent during

the same period.

In the 1950s, the fats and oils group (composed of added fats and oils) con- tributed the most fat to the food supply (41 percent), followed by the meat, poul- try, and fish group (32 percent). By 1999, the fats and oils group’s contribution to total fat had jumped 12 percentage points to 53 percent, probably due to the higher consumption of fried foods in foodservice outlets, the increase in con- sumption of high-fat snack foods, and the increased use of salad dressings. Margarine, salad dressings and mayon- naise, cakes and other sweet baked goods, and oils continue to appear in the top 10 foods for fat contribution, accord- ing to recent USDA food intake surveys, which indicates the ongoing prevalence of discretionary fats in Americans’ diets.

44.6

47.8

53.4

60.8

65.5

74.5

9.8

13.9

20.2

25.0

28.2

35.2

21.4

20.7

20.5

23.6

26.2

29.0

10.9

14.6

17.4

20.5

22.7

23.1

10.5

6.1

3.5

3.1

4.0

6.0

17.0

16.5

15.9

15.3

14.0

12.8

9.0

6.6

4.7

4.6

4.4

4.6

8.0

9.9

11.2

10.7

9.6

8.2

erages 1980-89

capita

1

1990-99

2000

Table 2-3

Total added fats and oils Salad and cooking oils 2

Table spreads Butter Margarine

1 2 3 4 Total added fats and oils is on a fat-content basis. Individual items are on a product-weight basis. Includes a small amount of specialty fats used mainly in confectionery products and nondairy creamers. Total may not add due to rounding. Direct use; excludes use in margarine or shortening. Source: USDA’s Economic Research Service.

Pounds per

Average consumption of added fats increased by two-thirds between 1950-59 and 2000

Baking and frying fats Shortening Lard and beef tallow 3

4

Item

1950-59

1960-69

Annual av 1970-79

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