Nutrient Density – addressing the challenge of obesity

Professor Adam Drewnowski

Achieving a balanced and nutrient-rich diet is becoming progressively more difficult within the constraints of the global food supply. The observed disparities in health between the global rich and the global poor can be explained, in part, by unequal food prices and by the rising cost of eating healthy. In general, added sugars and fats cost less than do many of the recommended healthier options that provide better nutrition and better nutrient balance. But need healthier diets cost more? New metrics of nutrient density can help consumers identify foods that are nutrient-rich, affordable, and appealing. Metrics of nutrient balance can help identify those combinations of foods that provide optimal nutritional value. Merging dietary intakes data with local or national food prices permits the estimation of diet costs at the individual level, opening the door to novel studies in nutrition economics.

Is it possible to eat better for less? In the US, higher Healthy Eating Index (HEI-2010) scores were linked to higher energy-adjusted diet costs. Conversely, cheap empty calories from solid fats and added sugars were linked to lower diet costs. In general, lower cost diets were consumed by lower income groups. However, some population subgroups, including Mexican Americans and other Hispanics, managed to achieve diets consistent with DASH and other dietary guidelines at a lower-than-expected cost. Being able to achieve complete and balanced diets on limited budgets is one example of nutrition “resilience”.

To find out more about Adam read his biography here

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