Carbs to blame for rising calorie intake

February 11, 2004 in Nutrition Topics in the News

Carbs to blame for rising calorie intake

Americans, especially women, are consuming far more calories than they did three decades ago, and the carbohydrate food group is largely to blame, according to a U.S. study.

The report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that women between the ages of 20 and 74 consumed an average 1,877 calories per day in 2000, 22% more than in 1971. The average intake for males in the same age group was up 8% to 2,618 calories in 2000. The percentage of daily calories that came from carbohydrates, which include rice, bread and pasta, rose to 51.6 % from 45.4% in women and to 49% from 42.4% in men during the period.

The study did not examine the reasons for the increase in carbohydrate intake, though the report noted that previous research had linked it to consumption of pizza, salty snacks and take-away foods as well as bigger portions.

The authors noted that the findings should not be seen as supporting the Atkins diet or any other food regimen that stressed low or no consumption of carbohydrates.

The study also found that consumption of fat, including saturated fat, which can increase blood cholesterol and lead to heart disease, represented a smaller percent of daily calories by the end of the 30-year period. The actual number of fat grams consumed per day, however, changed little between 1971 and 2000 due to the rising calorie consumption. Protein intake for both men and women remained about the same.

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