Based on the information in this chapter, which groups are most at risk for nutrient deficiencies? What else would you like to know about diets in those groups to help identify ways to reduce those risks? (Moshfegh, 2015)
The body requires various crucial nutrients such as vitamins and minerals for development and prevention of diseases. These nutrients aren’t naturally produced in the body, we obtain them from the food we eat every day. A nutrient deficiency occurs when the body doesn’t receive sufficient amount of nutrients. Adequate nutrition is composed of sufficient intake of macronutrients and micronutrients, the combination of which provide energy, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals (Pinard, Yaroch, & Smith 2015). Every individual wants long and productive life, and consuming nutritional food is a powerful tool in achieving desired life (Moshfegh, 2015). Unfortunately, this is not an easy task and there are many who suffer from nutrient deficiencies.
The amount of nutrients needed differs according to age. Despite the diversity of foods available, most Americans have diets falling below recommended minimums for certain nutrients and above maximums for others (Drewnowski, Maillot, & Rehm, 2012). The Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) are nutrient reference values developed by the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies. These values are intended to serve as a guide for nutritional intake. In 2005-2008, almost all the individuals regardless of their age had diets below the DRI recommendations for potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamins D and E and above the DRI for sodium (Moshfegh, 2015). Also, one-third to one-half of individuals failed to meet the DRI recommended amount of Magnesium, Calcium, Vitamins A and C, and Folate (Moshfegh, 2015). The author of this chapter Moshfegh states that higher number of females did not meet the recommendation for folate and iron. 20 percent of females fourteen years and older did not meet the recommendation of folate and 15 percent of females fourteen years to fifty years did not meet the recommendation of iron (Moshfegh, 2015).
Studies have shown that food consumed outside the home has a high amount of fat and saturated fat, which Americans over consume and lower in nutrients like calcium, fiber and iron, which Americans under consume (Moshfegh, 2015). Consequently, the individuals who frequently consume outside food are more likely to be at risk of nutrient deficiencies. Additionally, eating out is positively associated with increased body weight and obesity (USDA & DHHS, 2010).
Meal patterns and snacking frequency play a significant role in individual’s nutrient intake. In 2007-2008, two-thirds of the individuals reported have the three meal pattern of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Whites compared to blacks and Hispanics were more likely to eat three meals a day. Also, those in higher income households were more likely to have three meals a day than to those in lower income households (Moshfegh, 2015). These three meals help body to sustain and obtain nutrients. So, as per these statistics blacks, Hispanics and those with lower incomes are more likely to be at risk for nutrient deficiencies. The author Moshfegh also states that Teens are less likely to consume three meals a day, making them vulnerable to nutrient deficiency (Moshfegh, 2015).
A breakfast is often considered the most important meal of the day. A well-balanced breakfast offers an important nutritional foundation for a productive and healthy day, at any age (Concannon, 2014). In a study about breakfast in America in 2001-2002, Americans ate about one-fourth of breakfasts away from home, which often included soda, bacon and sausage, sweet rolls, fried potatoes, breakfast sandwiches, and eggs (Moshfegh, 2015).
On the other hand, when eating at home, Americans more frequently reported eating ready-to-eat cereal, milk, fruits, and juice (Moshfegh, 2015). The majority of breakfast consumed outside the home was less nutritional and filled with fats and saturated fats. Skipping breakfast is particularly common among teens and young adults, blacks, and those with lower family income. Compared to thirty years ago, the groups with the largest decline in eating breakfast are children and adolescents (Moshfegh, 2015). Consequently, those who frequently consume breakfast outside the home, make unhealthy food choices, altogether skip the breakfast are more likely to be at risk of nutrient deficiency. Skipping breakfast means losing out on critical nutrients (Moshfegh, 2015).
Lunch is as important as breakfast. It replenishes our bodies from the morning activities, energizes or bodies, and gets us through the day until dinner (Moshfegh, 2015). So, by skipping lunch one essentially skips the nutrients needed to get through the day. Males over 70 years old, blacks, Hispanics and those with lower family income are more likely to skip the lunch (Moshfegh, 2015). As a result making these groups more likely to be at risk of nutrient deficiency. On the other hand, very few people have reported skipping dinner, which provides the largest proportion of the many nutrients.
Apart from the three pattern meal, Americans frequently report snacking. Often, these snacks are unhealthy and are very likely to contribute to obesity and nutrient deficiency (Moshfegh, 2015). Dietary guidelines for Americans recommend that vegetables and fruits should make half of plate, however, one out of four Americans report eating none at all (Moshfegh, 2015). Those with lower incomes and Hispanic individuals reported consuming fewer vegetables and fruits as compared to higher income individuals, blacks and white (Moshfegh, 2015).
The facts and information provided by the author Moshfegh suggests that those with lower income, those with Hispanic ethnicity, and blacks are more likely to be at risk for nutrient deficiency than whites. To help identify and reduce these risks we need to assess eating patterns of groups at risk. Also, we need to assess the information about what foods are consumed on a daily basis. The access, availability, and affordability plays a significant role in one’s food choices, to get a full picture of these groups, there is a need for assessing these factors. Additionally, health conditions and the cultural significance of food consumption should also be taken into account. Apart from diets, examining the differences in diets by demography and geography will help to identify ways to decrease these risks.
This infographic helps us to understand the importance of investing in the nutrition development.
Source: The Hunger Project, 2015
Concannon, K., & U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2014). Healthy Breakfast, Healthy Future. Retrieved from http://blogs.usda.gov/2014/03/11/healthy-breakfast-healthy-future/
Drewnowski, A., Maillot, M., & Rehm, C. (2012). Reducing the Sodium-Potassium Ratio in the US Diet: A Challenge for Public Health. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 96, 439–444.
Moshfegh, A. (2015). Food Consumptions in the United States. In R. A. Neff (Ed.), Introduction to the US Food System: Public Health, Environment, and Equity (pp. 373-398). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Pinard, C. A., Yaroch, A. L., & Smith, T. M. (2015). Nutrition. In R. A. Neff (Ed.), Introduction to the US Food System: Public Health, Environment, and Equity (pp. 399-423). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
The Hunger Project [Online Image]. (2015). Investing in Nutrition. Retrieved from http://www.nutritionunplugged.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/whalebb4.jpg
US Department of Agriculture and US Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Dietary guidelines for Americans, 2010 (7th ed.). Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office.