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Americans eating healthier, more improvement needed

(CNN) – Americans are doing a better job of cutting out carbs and sugar, but there's still plenty of work to do.

According to a new "report card" on American diet, consumption of highly processed foods with added sugars dropped three percent since 1999.

Researchers analyzed the eating habits of 44,000 adults between 1999 and 2016. The study was published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

They believe these positive trends reflect increased public awareness of the health risks associated with added sugars and low grain consumption.

However, they say people are still eating too much of what is not healthy.
About half of typical American's daily calories come from refined grains – starchy vegetables and added sugars.

Worse, their intake of saturated fat exceeds 10%.
Researchers say this is due to the high consumption of meat, especially red and processed meats, which are strongly linked to heart disease and cancer.

Only 9% of daily calories come from whole grains and fruits,
The findings were even worse for adults over age 50, minorities and under-educated and low-income populations.

“People with less than a high school education or living below the poverty line,” said study co-author Fang Fang Zhang, “not only have a worse diet than those with a higher level of education or income at any given cycle, they also did not improve their diet quality over time. ”

Researchers say the study offers insight into where people can improve their diets and which subgroups are targeted to eliminate healthy eating disparities.

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