Scientists say they have identified five eating patterns for U.S. adults that are strongly influenced by age, race, region, gender, income and education.
Presenting their findings at the American Heart Association's Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions, the scientists said the five dietary patterns are:
- Southern fried, processed meats, and sugar sweetened beverages
- Traditional Chinese and Mexican food, pasta dishes, pizza, soup and other mixed dishes including frozen or take-out meals
- Healthy mostly fruits, vegetables and grains
- Sweets large amounts of sweet snacks and desserts
- Alcohol proteins, alcohol and salads
"We believe focusing research on dietary patterns better represents how people eat, compared to single foods or nutrients," said Suzanne Judd, Ph.D., study author and assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.
The researchers also found clear differences in dietary patterns across demographic and socioeconomic groups:
- Blacks were more likely than whites to eat a Southern dietary pattern.
- Men, people making less than $35,000 a year and those who weren't college graduates were more likely to follow the Southern pattern of eating than women, those who made more money, or those who were more educated.
- Blacks tended to not eat the alcohol dietary pattern.
- People ages 45 to 54 tended to eat a traditional dietary pattern.
- Those 75 years and older were likely to not eat the traditional dietary pattern.
- College educated adults tended to not eat the Southern dietary pattern.