Poor nutrition in America? On the surface, this would seem highly unlikely. Most of us are aware of the "high standard of living" that exists here. Statistics abound to show that the United States in the 1990's is one of the richest and best-fed nations in the world. We are constantly reminded--especially when food prices go up--that Americans spend a smaller fraction of their income on food than any other people in the world, now or ever in history. Twentieth-century America represents one of the few examples in history of a nation whose people do not spend all or a vast majority of their waking hours just getting enough food to stay alive.
But to any American conscious of our country's eating habits, there's far more to the story than contained in the preceding paragraph. There continues to be the fact, for example, that for millions of Americans, hunger is a problem. Migrant workers in California, black families in Bedford-Stuyvesant, and unemployed miners in Appalachia all face nutritional problems not much different from the hungry and undernourished in India, Botswana, Costa Rica, or any other less-industrialized nation.
But for the great majority of Americans, however, the issue is not being unable to get enough food. It is not eating the proper kinds of food. For a nation as prosperous as the United States, it seems strange to talk about poor nutrition. But, in fact, nutritional studies over the past two decades consistently show that far too many Americans maintain diets that are "unacceptable" or "deficient" from a nutritional stand-point. And, in most cases, money is not the problem. Less than satisfactory nutrition is as likely to be found among the upper and middle classes as it is among the poor. What factors do account, then, for our apparent lack of interest in healthful diets?.
One reason may be the fast pace of American life. It's easier and quicker to grab a bag of potato chips and a soft drink on the way to school than to sit down to a carefully planned and prepared breakfast.