Wednesday, July 13, 2016


Overall, Americans are eating better. Between 2002 and 2012, the percent of people eating a poor diet fell from around 56% to under 46%. But it's a different story if you separate people out by income. High-income Americans are eating better than ever — swapping fruit juice for whole fruits, replacing refined grains with whole grains, and eating tons of nuts — while the low-income group has improved much more modestly. Here's how some of the trends break down:

  • High-income people are eating a lot more fruit, while those in the low-income group didn't see a significant change. By 2012, high-income people were eating almost two more servings of fruit per week, replacing fruit juice (a less healthy option) with whole fruit.
  • Everyone is eating more whole grains, but only high-income people are dropping their consumption of refined grains like white bread and corn flakes.
  • Everyone is drinking fewer sugar-sweetened beverages like soda and sports drinks, but high-income people are drinking a lot less than low-income people. The two are basically falling in lockstep.

Food cost is undoubtedly part of the reason for this gap, but it doesn't fully explain it. Other, less tangible factors also play a role: the time cost to buying foods and preparing them yourself; a nutrition knowledge barrier, and heavy marketing of junk food and fast food to low-income people.  

Source: The Week, 7/4/16, Food Gap