New Food Groups: What We're Really Eating

Staff Writer
New research shows the 'true' food groups based on Americans' eating habits

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

First there was the pyramid. Then, there was the USDA's overhaul with MyPlate. But despite the attempts to reboot Americans' diets with food groups, a new study shows we're not sticking to them.

What we're really eating, say University of Alabama-Birmingham researchers, doesn't conform to the traditional food groups at all. What they found were five new food groups, and that these dietary patterns emerged based out of race, gender, age, and other demogrpahics. Their list:

Southern Diet: This includes everything at the very bottom of the pyramid, including fried food, processed meats, and sugary beverages. The authors found that African-Americans were more likely to stick to the Southern diet than Caucasians, as well as men, those making less than $35,000 per year, and people without college degrees.

Traditional: The range of foods in this group spreads from Chinese food to Mexican food, pasta, pizza, soup, and other mixed dishes. This also included frozen and takeout meals. The most common consumer in the traditional group? Those in the 45- to 54-year-old age group.

Healthy: At least some people are eating right. This includes the typical veggie, fruit, and whole-grain diet (or what the USDA advises you to eat).

Sweets: The group indicates large amount of sweet snacks and desserts.

Alcohol: Yep, the drink has its own category. With it comes proteins and salads, to balance out the booze. The study found that African-Americans tended not to follow the alcohol group.

It's unclear whether the study will actually have an effect on the USDA's standards for eating, but the authors say it will shed light on Americans' food choices.