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UNC Researchers Map American Eating Habits

A shopper examines produce at Deep Roots grocery.
Deep Roots Coop

Researchers at UNC-Chapel Hill are gathering massive amounts of nutritional information to create a better picture of what Americans are eating. 

Scientists are looking at caloric data for every packaged food on the shelves and comparing that to food sales in order to see how they work into Americans' diets.  Professor Meghan Slining says the research will show how quickly manufacturers change ingredients in each product and how that changes nutrition."We'll capture those changes quickly and in a way that really is representing what's out there in the food supply, not just what we call an indicator food," Slinging explains.

"USDA may pick one brand of chocolate milk to get their nutrient information from.  We're actually sampling all the chocolate milks that were purchased in the United States."

Slining says researchers will also take a look a who is buying those foods.  The project is part of first lady Michelle Obama's campaign to reduce the obesity rate.  Sixteen major food companies have pledged to reduce the number of calories they put on the market.

Will Michaels is WUNC's General Assignment Reporter and fill-in host for "Morning Edition"
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