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Changes in Serving Size, Calories, and Sodium Content in Processed Foods From 2009 to 2015
  • Published Date:
    Mar 15 2018
  • Source:
    Prev Chronic Dis. 15.
Filetype[PDF-362.81 KB]

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  • Description:

    Approximately 60% of the American diet comes from processed foods, which makes improving their nutritional quality important for Americans’ health. The objective of this study was to measure changes in serving sizes, calories, and sodium in top-selling processed foods that were on the market in 2009 and 2015.


    We analyzed products in the top 80% of sales in the 54 processed food categories with consistent serving sizes and sales metrics that were on the market in both 2009 and 2015. Mean serving size, calories (per serving and density), sodium (per serving and density), and sales were calculated for 2,979 branded processed food products. For each stratification of calorie density and sodium density (decreased, increased, or did not change), we calculated the mean serving size, calorie density, sodium density, and sales for each year.


    From 2009 to 2015, we found decreases in serving size (−2.3%, P < .001), calories per serving (−2.0%, P < .001), calorie density (−1.1%, P < .001), sodium per serving (−7.6%, P < .001), and sodium density (−6.0%, P < .001). A decrease in calorie density did not correspond to an increase in sodium density or vice versa. A decline in sales was observed regardless of whether calorie density or sodium density decreased, increased, or did not change.


    Reductions in calorie and sodium density occurred in tandem, suggesting that manufacturers reformulated for more than one health goal at the same time. Instead of unintended negative consequences of encouraging companies to reformulate for one nutrient, an overall net nutritional benefit occurred.

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