Trends in dietary intake and eating behaviors
In the United States, we have been conducting research on changes in diet quality, decomposition of energy intake changes, and many other factors for decades. The early work included evaluations of school feeding programs and methods for studying dietary behavior, examinations of trends in beverage consumption, trends in race-ethnic disparities in diet quality and socioeconomic status, and many other studies and created what was called the UNC approach. This original UNC approach has grown increasingly more sophisticated over the decades as we extended our understanding of ways to capture the multidimensionality of eating behavior.
This has included recent extensive experience studying the eating patterns of US children and adults using nationally representative complex survey data, including shifts in the types of foods and beverages consumed, number of meals and snacks, portion sizes, weekend eating, eating away-from-home, fast food intake, home cooking, sugar sweetened beverage consumption, intake of foods and beverages with low-calorie sweeteners, mathematical decomposition of trends in energy intake into it’s components of change, and studies on added sugar intake.
In addition, we have developed a complex database linking over 1.4 million barcoded food and beverage products to corresponding Nutrition Facts Panels, which uniquely enables us to study food and beverage purchases among a nationally representative sample of over 160,000 US households. Our team has examined trends in caloric and low-caloric sweeteners in the food supply and their relationships with diet quality, the impact of the recession on purchases and diet, product reformulation and changes in the nutrient content of grain-based desserts, and food purchasing behavior and diet quality of households with preschoolers. In some of the more innovative studies, we have organized all these packaged foods using ingredient lists and other detailed information and classified products by degree of processing and convenience of food preparation. We have also measured complex patterns of food store shopping patterns and their implications.