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Poverty and discrimination are powerful determinants of bad health, making it harder to buy healthy foods, find leisure time for exercise, live in clean, affordable housing and obtain preventive care. Photo credit: Katherine Turner/School of Public Health
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After rising for decades, calorie consumption has declined in recent years as public attitudes have shifted.

By Margot Sanger-Katz

After decades of worsening diets and sharp increases in obesity, Americans’ eating habits have begun changing for the better.

Calories consumed daily by the typical American adult, which peaked around 2003, are in the midst of their first sustained decline since federal statistics began to track the subject, more than 40 years ago. The number of calories that the average American child takes in daily has fallen even more — by at least 9 percent.

The declines cut across most major demographic groups — including higher- and lower-income families, and blacks and whites — though they vary somewhat by group.

In the most striking shift, the amount of full-calorie soda drunk by the average American has dropped 25 percent since the late 1990s.

Read the full article including how Ali Mokdad's research changed the course of American obesity.