The nutritionally-balanced quadrants of the USDA’s MyPlate, the new federal dietary guidelines that depict a healthful daily diet, look very different from what is actually on the plates of most Americans, according to market research firm The NPD Group.

NPD’s food and beverage market research finds that for the average consumer, only 2 percent of their days come close to resembling the USDA’s MyPlate.

Using NPD’s National Eating Trends (NET) research, which has continually tracked the eating and drinking habits of U.S. consumers for more than 30 years, MyPlate days were calculated based on consumers who, on the same day, achieved at least 70 percent of the daily recommended intake for dairy, fruit, grains, proteins and vegetables. For the average consumer, 2 percent of their days (about 7 days a year) come close to the USDA dietary guidelines; and when a MyPlate day is achieved, consumers are very likely to consume more than three meals a day.

“Clearly there is a need for consumers to change their eating behaviors,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “With more than 65 percent of adults in NPD’s nationally representative consumer panel classified as either overweight or obese, the necessity behind change could not be more apparent.”

During a recent NPD-hosted event in Washington, D.C., Dr. Robert Post, deputy director at the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, highlighted the new dietary guidelines. Among them were substituting solid fats with oils, increasing vegetable and dairy consumption and switching out more refined grains in favor of whole grains.

“We know through our ongoing research that consumers are more aware of what constitutes a healthy diet, but we also know that what they say and what they do when it comes to eating are often different,” Seifer said. “Since the MyPlate program was just released last year, time will tell if it will have an effect on the way consumers eat, but it’s likely to be an uphill battle.”

Read more about trends and statistics.

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