CHICAGO – What’s actually on the plates of most Americans is a departure from the nutritionally balanced quadrants of the US Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate, a graphic interpretation of the new federal dietary guidelines depicting a healthful daily diet, said The NPD Group, a leading market research company. For the average consumer, only 2 percent of their days come close to resembling the USDA’s MyPlate, NPD’s food and beverage market research uncovered.

MyPlate days were calculated based on consumers who, on the same day, achieved at least 70 percent of the daily recommended intake for dairy, fruit, grains, proteins and vegetables, according to NPD’s National Eating Trends (NET) research. For the average consumer, 2 percent of their days – about seven days per year – come close to the USDA dietary guidelines.

And when a MyPlate day is achieved, consumers are very likely to consume more than three meals a day, according to the NPD Group/National Eating Trends; Five Years Ending Feb 2011.

“Clearly there is a need for consumers to change their eating behaviors,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst who analyzed this information. “With more than 65 percent of adults in NPD’s nationally representative consumer panel classified as either overweight or obese, the necessity behind change could not be more apparent.”

Dr. Robert Post, deputy director at the USDA’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, highlighted the new dietary guidelines during a recent NPD-hosted event in Washington. His highlights included substituting solid fats with oils, increasing vegetable and dairy consumption and switching out more refined grains in favor of whole grains. Everyone should be enjoying their meals but eating less while still adhering to good nutritional guidelines, he pointed out.

“We know through our ongoing research consumers are more aware of what constitutes a healthy diet, but we also know that what they say and what they do when it comes to eating are often different,” Seifer said. “Since the MyPlate program was just released last year, time will tell if it will have an effect on the way consumers eat, but it’s likely to be an up-hill battle.”