Americans need to eat much more fish and much less processed meat

Americans need to eat much more fish and much less processed meat

In a new study, researchers found that American people eat too much processed-meat and too little fatty fish.

They found that the amount of processed meat consumed by Americans has remained unchanged in the past 18 years, nor has their intake of fish/shellfish increased.

The research was conducted by a team from Tufts University.

In the study, the team used a nationally representative sample comprised of dietary data from nearly 44,000 US adults (ages 20 and older) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) through 2016.

They assessed trends in the consumption of processed meat, unprocessed red meat, poultry, fish, and shellfish over the past 18 years.

In addition to the overall trends noted above using full NHANES data, the research team also compared NHANES data from 1999-2000 to 2015-2016.

They found that eating processed meats remained unchanged—182 grams/week compared with 187 grams/week.

Eating of unprocessed red meat is decreasing—340 grams/week compared with 284 grams/week, primarily due to decreased eating of beef (down by 78 grams/week).

Eating of poultry is increasing—256 grams/week compared with 303 grams/week, primarily due to increased consumption of chicken (up by 34 grams/week).

Finally, eating fish/seafood remained unchanged—115 grams/week compared with 116 grams/week.

In addition, 25% of US adults are still eating more unprocessed red meat than the recommended level, and less than 15% of people meet the guidelines for fish/shellfish consumption.

But Americans are eating less beef and more chicken than they did 18 years ago, and the consumption of poultry exceeds that of unprocessed red meat for the first time.

The team says excessive consumption of processed meat is linked to increased risk of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and some cancers.

It was estimated that more than 14,524 new cancer cases were attributable to high consumption of processed meat in 2015 among US adults aged 20 years and older.

The team also says that the low consumption of fish/shellfish among US adults could be due to its high retail price, lack of awareness of its health benefits, and concerns about mercury contamination in certain fish.

Recent scientific evidence suggests that the benefits of fish intake exceed the potential risks for most individuals.

People need to eat more fish, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids.

The findings support further actions to increase public awareness of the health risks associated with high processed meat consumption and low fish intake in the US.

The lead author of the study is Fang Zhang, MD, Ph.D., Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University, Boston.

The study is published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

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