Over the 1980-2012 period we have had vast shifts in how people eat throughout the world. Diets in the 1970’s began to shift toward excess processed foods, increased away from home intake and greater use of edible oils and sugar-sweetened beverages. We can view diets on many levels from the actual foods consumed to the behaviors that affect what we eat. The latter includes: the large shift toward eating away from home, the increased portion sizes in many countries, and the vast increases in the number of daily eating events (often thought of as frequent snacking or constant eating). Depending on the country, each of these changes has been very important. Across the globe; however, what my work has shown is that the dominant change is in snacking. Whereas 100 years ago and more, only the wealthy and royalty had snacks and items such as the French twice-cooked biscoits were really travelers’ food.

The dominant food changes are unfortunately all in the wrong direction – reductions of legumes/pulses and fruits and vegetables (in a few countries fruit intake is up; however in most fruit intake is replaced by the unhealthful fruit juice). The major increases across the globe are: edible oil intake (frying of food, adding oils to all dishes), increased consumption of animal source foods (led by dairy in a few countries like India and pork, beef, poultry, eggs in others like China), and increased intake of all nutritive sweeteners as beverages and in food. Processed food is replacing home cooking and away-from-home intake is rising.

Underlying all of this is a vast shift away from cooking in many parts of the globe and vast shifts in the price structure of foods as grains are increasingly used for animal source foods.

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