Researchers at Tufts University studied childhood diet trends in American youth from 1999 to 2016. Overall diet quality did improve during that period, but the researchers rated it as poor. They divided youth diets into three rankings of Poor, Intermediate, and Ideal. Let’s take a closer look at what they found:
Researchers analyzed the daily eating habits of more than 31,000 youths, ages 2 to19.
The percentage of children with low-quality diets decreased from 77% to 56% between 1999 and 2016.
Intermediate-quality diets increased from 23% to 44%.
Ideal-quality diets remained very low at less than 1%.
Older youth (ages 12 to19) had lower diet quality than younger children, with 67% of older youth eating poor quality diets.
Differences related to household income, parental education, and food security—having access to enough food—were stable or worsened over time.
Average daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages decreased from two servings to one.
Dietary sodium intake increased—and greatly exceeds current guidelines.
Rankings were based on the AHA 2020 continuous diet score and the Healthy Eating Index 2015 score, which is based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.