The Westernization of Dietary Patterns

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Toward the end of the twentieth century, economic growth among developing countries caused the phenomenon of the Westernization of traditional eating patterns. Industrialization and modern transportation brought baking technology and Western food styles to developing countries. New and tasty foods high in fat, sugar, and salt became the choice of the new rich. Trendy fast foods, soft drinks, and meat products replaced traditional ethnic foods.

Fortunately, in many emerging societies the poor are still unable to afford Western fast foods, and are thus spared the ills of high consumption of fats, meat, and sugars. For example, many people in India still spend more than half their income on food consumed at home, compared to the average American, who spends less than 8 percent of his or her disposable income on home-cooked food.

The American diet, much like that of many industrialized nations, derives its calories from fats, sugars, and animal products in foods prepared or processed away from home. One out of every three meals in America is consumed away from home. From 1990 to 2000 there was a 14 percent decrease in the number of meals eaten at home. In 1977 only 16 percent of all meals and snacks were eaten way from home. By 1995, this rose to 27 percent. In 1995, away-from-home foods provided 34 percent of total caloric intake, an increase from 18 percent in 1977. In addition, eating at home does not always mean cooking. Supermarkets and grocery stores provide thousands of ready-made meals, frozen foods, and processed meals that require little preparation at home.

Total fat consumption in the United States increased from 18 percent in 1977 to 38 percent in 1995. According to Lin and Frazao, away-from-home foods deliver more calories in fat and saturated fat and are lower in fiber and calcium than home-cooked foods. The average total calories consumed by Americans rose from 1,807 calories in 1987 to 2,043 calories in saturated fat: a fat with the maximum possible number of hydrogens; more difficult to break down that unsaturated fats calcium: mineral essential for bones and teeth fast food: food requiring minimal preparation before eating, or food delivered very quickly after ordering in a restaurant obesity: the condition of being overweight, according to established norms based on sex, age, and height overweight: weight above the accepted norm based on height, sex, and age obese: above accepted standards of weight for sex, height, and age chronic: over a long period heart disease: any disorder of the heart or its blood supply, including heart attack, atherosclerosis, and coronary artery disease hypertension: high blood pressure hyperlipidemia: high levels of lipids (fats or cholesterol) in the blood cancer: uncontrolled cell growth stroke: loss of blood supply to part of the brain, due to a blocked or burst artery in the brain type II diabetes: Inability to regulate the level of sugar in the blood due to a reduction in the number of insulin receptors on the body's cells incidence: number of new cases reported each year food additive: substance added to foods to improve nutrition, taste, appearance or shelf-life food poisoning: illness caused by consumption of spoiled food, usually containing bacteria bacteria: single-celled organisms without nuclei, some of which are infectious virus: noncellular infectious agent that requires a host cell to reproduce toxins: poison parasite: organism that feeds off of other organisms

1995. Since away-from-home foods deliver more fat and more calories, the trend of eating out can become a health hazard. People tend to eat more from restaurants and fast-food places because many eating establishments "supersize" their portions. Customers feel that they get their money's worth when they receive more food than they need.

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