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Race, Location Big Factors in American Diets
Date:3/14/2012

By Carina Storrs
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, March 13 (HealthDay News) -- The foods Americans eat have a lot to do with factors like race, age and where they live, and can be categorized into five distinct dietary patterns, according to a new study.

Researchers analyzed food questionnaires from a large group of black and white adults aged 45 and older in the continental United States, with a focus on southeastern states.

The strongest association they found was that black people were more likely than whites to have "southern" diets, which are rich in fried foods, processed meats and sweetened drinks.

"Nobody has defined dietary patterns in a population like this," said Suzanne Judd, assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and study co-author.

The findings are slated for Tuesday presentation at the American Heart Association meeting in San Diego.

The southern diet probably emerged as a clear trend because the study included so many participants from the Southeast, Judd added.

In addition to the southern diet, the authors identified four other eating patterns.

The "traditional" pattern was characterized by a mixed diet of mostly takeout and prepared foods.

A "healthy" diet was mostly made up of fruits, veggies and grains.

"Sweets" consisted largely of sweet snacks and desserts.

An "alcohol" pattern, which included salads, proteins (and alcohol), was associated with younger ages and higher socioeconomic status.

The researchers limited their study to black and white adults because the largest difference in stroke risk exists between these two racial groups. Previous research has found that black people are three times more likely to have a stroke than their white counterparts at 45 years of age, although the gap in risk shrinks in older adults.

People from the Southeast region, known as the "stroke belt," are also more likely to suffer a
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