The gap between food intakes and the pyramid recommendations: Measurement and food system ramifications

Paul E. McNamara, Christine K. Ranney, Linda Scott Kantor, Susan M. Krebs-Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper measures the current gap in food consumption between dietary guidelines and estimated food intakes. Information on the adherence of the US diet to the guidelines comes from two sources: the Continuing Survey of Food Intakes by Individuals (CSFII) and the USDA's annual Food Supply Data (FSD) Series. We review previous studies and supplement these with our own analysis of the 1994 CSFII and Food Supply data with Food Guide Pyramid serving recommendations. These analyses show that the greatest relative gaps occur in the fruit and dairy groups, and added sugars; smaller gaps exist for the other food groups. We also consider how future demographic changes will influence the size of these gaps. If current dietary patterns are maintained in each category of age, sex, and ethnicity, then we project substantial future increases in the gap at the aggregate food supply level for most food groups. The magnitude of the gap between current intakes and the Pyramid recommendations suggests the need for continued increases in agricultural productivity, higher resource use, and greater levels of international trade if the gap is to be closed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)117-133
Number of pages17
JournalFood Policy
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - May 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Dietary patterns
  • Dietary recommendations
  • Food Guide Pyramid
  • Food intakes
  • US diet

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Development
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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