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Most Americans Don't Follow Diets That Could Prevent Cancer

THURSDAY, July 1, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The eating habits of most American adults aren't in line with dietary guidelines that can reduce the risk of cancer, a new study finds.

Researchers examined data from nearly 31,000 U.S. adult participants in the annual National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The analysis of what the participants ate in the 24 hours before completing the survey showed that about 63% to 73% didn't get the recommended daily amount of fruits and vegetables and whole grains, and about 90% didn't achieve the recommended 30 grams of fiber per day.

Nearly 70% of the participants were overweight or obese. Obese participants, who made up nearly 36% of the survey volunteers, were significantly less likely than other adults to get recommended intakes of fiber, fruit, non-starchy vegetables and whole grains.

Obese adults were also more likely to exceed the recommended 18 ounces per week of red meat and to have had fast food on the day they took part in the survey.

On average, all participants consumed more added sugars than the recommended maximum of less than 10% of overall daily calories, according to the study published recently in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

"We're looking at individuals to move toward a primarily plant-based type of dietary pattern rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains and beans, peas, lentils, seeds and nuts -- and cutting back on saturated fats and sodium," said senior study author Colleen Spees, an associate professor of medical dietetics in Ohio State University's School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

"Modifying our current dietary and physical activity patterns to better align with these evidence-based guidelines over time is important to reduce the risk of noncommunicable disease and promote lifelong health and wellness," Spees said in a university news release.

"If Americans adopt these recommendations, they can reduce their risk of obesity, cancer, cardiovascular disease, stroke and high blood pressure," she added.

The guidelines are from the American Institute for Cancer Research, the American Cancer Society, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Even if you can't meet all the guidelines, following some is better than ignoring them altogether, Spees said.

For example, eat out at fast food restaurants less often and find tasty ways to incorporate more vegetables, grains and beans into meals prepared at home, she suggested.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians offers diet choices to prevent cancer.

SOURCE: Ohio State University, news release, June 29, 2021

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