Leave the Cannoli

Many of us are familiar with the line from The Godfather, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.” Research from JAMA Network Open, a publication of the American Medical Association (AMA), says we should think about leaving the cannoli as well.

The investigation found that the number of adults in the USA over the age of 65 with poor diet quality increased 10% from 2001-2018; the percentage rose from 51% to 61%–both of which are alarming. The percentage in the same demographic whose diet was considered “ideal” in the study was 0.4%–that’s just 4 in 1000! This may help to explain why so many adults are living with diet-related diseases.

What is to blame? Older adults are eating more processed meats, sugar-sweetened drinks, and foods with high salt content. Intake of healthier foods like fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grains has gone down. This is a trend nearly 20 years in the making, but the AMA hopes that by raising awareness it will be possible to reverse the trend.

The issue transcends older adults. Healthier foods are often more expensive and less readily available than processed foods and junk food. Restaurant food can vary widely from more healthy items to those that are downright artery-clogging. As adults age and are less able to prepare food for themselves–or less willing to do so–the choices become less and less healthful. Throughout many age groups this has contributed to the obesity epidemic in our country.

Older adults are living longer than in past generations. The question is whether those added years will be quality years or ones filled with poor health. A big part of the answer has to do with our diet. Improved eating habits can lead to better health outcomes and quality of life. The choice is ours.

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