Consumers Missing Out on Seafood Benefits: USDA

A recent research report from the USDA asserts that consumers are missing out on seafood benefits.

The study, which was published in the August 2015 issue of AgResearch Magazine and conducted by scientists at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, said: “While most U.S. consumers eat some seafood, the amounts are inadequate to meet federal dietary guidelines.”

Misinformation has led U.S. consumers to eat less seafood than they need in order to gain important health benefits, according to the report, which noted that “complex message[s]” about seafood “deter consumers.” The conclusion mirrors the Dietary Guidelines conclusion that “benefits of consuming seafood far outweigh the risks, even for pregnant women.”

One statistic unearthed by the study points in the direction of greater public health concerns when it reveals, “overall, about 80 to 90 percent of U.S. consumers did not meet their seafood recommendations.”

The USDA research report was based on an evaluation of food-intake data collected from a representative sampling of the U.S. population for the agency's national, "What We Eat in America/NHANES" survey. "Because little has been known about how well Americans meet the guidelines for eating seafood, the authors wanted to group people’s seafood consumption by sex, age, income, education, and race-ethnicity," according to the report's summary.

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Overall, some 80 to 90 percent of U.S. consumers did not meet their seafood recommendations. The researchers further discovered that the proportions of seafood consumption varied by sex, income and education level but not by race-ethnicity. Groups associated with eating less (or no) seafood were women, people aged 19 to 30, and people of lower income and education levels. “Much work remains to move U.S. consumers toward eating seafood at current recommended levels,” said ARS nutritionist Lisa Jahns, who led the study, which comes on the heels of the Food and Drug Administration's recently released 10-year quantitative assessment of seafood that clearly supports the call for Americans to eat more fish.

“With this latest USDA study, we see more evidence that federal nutrition guidance is uniting around a clear message; eat more seafood,” said the National Fisheries' Institute's Rima Kleiner, MS, RD.

Key facts from the USDA's seafood research:

  • Seafood contains healthful omega-3 fatty acids
  • Eating about 8 ounces of seafood a week is recommended
  • About 80-90 percent of U.S. consumers did not meet the recommendations
  • Public education on the benefits of eating seafood is suggested

The full USDA seafood research study can be found here.



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