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ARS Home » Plains Area » Grand Forks, North Dakota » Grand Forks Human Nutrition Research Center » Healthy Body Weight Research » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #336040

Research Project: Dietary Guidelines Adherence and Healthy Body Weight Maintenance

Location: Healthy Body Weight Research

Title: The capacity of the US food system to accommodate improved diet quality: Projections to 2030

Author
item Conrad, Zach
item Peters, Christian - Tufts University
item Johnson, Luann - University Of North Dakota
item Jahns, Lisa

Submitted to: Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2016
Publication Date: 4/1/2017
Citation: Conrad, Z.S., Peters, C., Johnson, L., Jahns, L.A. 2017. The capacity of the US food system to accommodate improved diet quality: Projections to 2030 [abstract]. Journal of Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. 31:651.3.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: Objective: To estimate the capacity of the US agricultural system to produce enough food, in the right amounts, to accommodate a population shift toward healthier diet patterns. This analysis has immediate and long-term implications for the nutritional quality of the food supply, as well as for environmental sustainability because food production depends on adequate land and water resources. Design: The US Foodprint Model was used to estimate the proportion of the national population that can be fed a variety of diets that differ by diet quality with domestically-produced food. The US Foodprint Model accepted data inputs on current (2012) and projected (2030) population size, food intake, and crop yields. Data on current and projected population size were obtained from the US Census Bureau. Data on current food intake were acquired from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2012 (N=8,386 individuals), and these data were projected to 2030 with regression models that used food availability data from 1980-2012 acquired from the USDA Loss-Adjusted Food Availability data series (N=20 food groups); quintiles of the Healthy Eating Index-2010 (HEI-2010) were used to quantify diet quality. Current and historical (1980-2016) crop yields were obtained from USDA Agricultural Surveys (N=112 crops), and regression models used historical data to project crop yields to 2030. Measures of variation for projected model simulations were estimated using Monte Carlo simulations with 1,000 draws. Results: The agricultural system in the US currently has the capacity to feed 140% (135%-146%) of the national population, based on currently-consumed diets; and can deliver a high quality diet (HEI-2010=82 out of 100) to 170% (151%-192%) of the population or a low quality diet (HEI-2010=35 out of 100) to 143% (133%-153%) of the population (P=0.019). However, no linear relationship was observed between the proportion of the population fed and quintiles of diet quality (P=0.251). Based on projected (2030) estimates of population size, food intake, and crop yields, the US agricultural system could provide a high quality diet to 178% (172%-183%) of the population or a low quality diet to 149% (139%-152%) of the population (P<0.001). No linear relationship was observed between the proportion of the projected population fed and quintiles of diet quality (P=0.139). No difference was observed between the current and projected estimates of the percent of the population fed for the same diet quality score. Conclusions: The US agricultural system currently has more than enough capacity to feed the national population. Incremental improvements in Americans’ diet quality are not associated with an increase in the number of people fed, except at high levels of diet quality. Future studies are needed to assess the relationship between diet quality and additional indicators of environmental sustainability.