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J Am Diet Assoc. 2003 Jul;103(7):867-72.

Did fat intake in the United States really decline between 1989-1991 and 1994-1996?

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  • 1School of Human Ecology, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, LA 70803, USA.


The objectives of this study were to determine changes in fat and energy intakes in the United States between 1989-1991 and 1994-1996, and to examine the implications of expressing fat intake in grams vs as a percent of total energy intake. The source of data was the Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals. The results suggest that intake of energy rose between the 2 time periods, primarily due to higher carbohydrate intake. There was also a modest increase in fat intake. However fat intake, as a percent of total energy, declined. The higher energy intakes were primarily from beverages, especially soft drinks, food mixtures, grain snacks, and pastries. The primary sources of higher fat intakes were meat mixtures, vegetables, and some categories of the grain group. Similar trends in the Food Supply Series suggested that the changes observed were not entirely due to changes in survey methodology. Because the increase in fat intake was masked by the increase in energy intake, we conclude that assessing trends in fat intake as a percent of energy consumption can be misleading, unless information on total energy and fat intake, in grams, is also provided. These preliminary findings should be interpreted cautiously until they are confirmed by formal secular trend analyses.

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