Background: International comparisons of dietary intake are an important source of information to better understand food habits and their relationship to nutrition related diseases. The objective of this study is to compare food intake of Brazilian adults with American adults identifying possible dietary factors associated with the increase in obesity in Brazil.
Methods: This research used cross-national analyses between the United States and Brazil, including 5,420 adults in the 2007-2008 What We Eat In America, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and 26,390 adults in the 2008-2009 Brazilian Household Budget Survey, Individual Food Intake. Dietary data were collected through 24 h recalls in the U.S. and through food records in Brazil. Foods and beverages were combined into 25 food categories. Food intake means and percentage of energy contribution by food categories to the population's total energy intake were compared between the countries.
Results: Higher frequencies of intake were reported in the United States compared to Brazil for the majority of food categories except for meat, rice and rice dishes; beans and legumes; spreads; and coffee and tea. In either country, young adults (20-39 yrs) had greater reports of meat, poultry and fish mixed dishes; pizza and pasta; and soft drinks compared to older adults (60 + yrs). Meat, poultry and fish mixed dishes (13%), breads (11%), sweets and confections (8%), pizza and pasta (7%), and dairy products (6%) were the top five food category sources of energy intake among American adults. The top five food categories in Brazil were rice and rice dishes (13%), meat (11%), beans and legumes (10%), breads (10%), and coffee and tea (6%). Thus, traditional plant-based foods such as rice and beans were important contributors in the Brazilian diet.
Conclusion: Although young adults had higher reports of high-calorie and nutrient-poor foods than older adults in both countries, Brazilian young adults did not consume a diet similar to Americans, indicating that it is still possible to reverse the current trends of incorporating Western dietary habits in Brazil.
Alex’s Notes: This is another fun study that compares American food intake to others. I like these because international comparisons really let us view different food habits and compare them to various chronic disease prevalence. It is all correlational and can’t get us very far, but it is still interesting. As such, the objective of this study was to compare food intake of Brazilian adults with American adults.
I suppose, first, you are wondering why Brazil? Well, the traditional Brazilian dietary pattern, rich in staple and basic foods such as plain meat and poultry, beans, legumes, rice, tea, and coffee, has been positively correlated with reduced BMI and lower cardiovascular disease risk. Moreover, Brazilian’s have a lower prevalence of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, but there has been an increase in all this recently as they move towards a more Western diet.
Anyways, across all age groups, American BMI was about 29 compared to 25 for Brazil, and daily energy intake averaged about 400 – 600 Calories more in Americans than Brazilians. Americans consumed twice as much milk, dairy products, deli and cured meats, savory snacks, cereal and grains, sweets and confections, and soft drinks, while Brazil consumed more meat, beans and legumes, rice and rice dishes, spreads, coffee and tea, and juices. Moreover,
“Meat, poultry and fish mixed dishes; breads; sweets and confections; pizza and pasta; and dairy products were the top five food category sources of energy intake among American adults, contributing to 44% of total energy intake. The Brazilian diet included important contribution from traditional plant-based foods: rice (12.5%) and beans (10.4%). Plain meat, poultry, and fish and seafood were greater contributors to total energy intake than mixed dishes containing meat, poultry and fish in Brazil (18 versus 5%) compared to the United States (11 versus 13%). The consumption of breads was an important contributor to total energy intake in the United States and Brazil (10.5 and 9.7%, respectively).”
Thus, it is clear that Brazil still adheres somewhat to their traditional diet. Interestingly, although Americans consumed more fruit, Brazilian’s had more of their daily calories come from fruit. This likely reflects that Americans were eating way more calories to begin with. Another interesting point was that coffee and tea contributed 6% of daily energy intake in Brazil. However, 83% of respondents indicated adding sugar to their drinks in Brazil, so it reasons that these beverages are important drivers of sugar consumption in Brazil.