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WASHINGTON -- As National Seafood Month kicks off this October, initial findings from a consumer study show that more than 85 percent of Americans currently eat seafood. Only 20 percent of Americans, however, meet the Dietary Guidelines recommendation of two servings of fish or seafood each week.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) advises people to eat more fish to live "longer, healthier, and more active lives," specifically mentioning the heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids found in seafood. (Story continues below.)
"More education is needed to help people include at least two fish meals in the diet each week," said Doris Hicks, a University of Delaware seafood technology specialist and National Fisheries Institute (NFI) member.
The Consumer Attitudes on Seafood Consumption survey found that while 45 percent of Americans eat seafood at least once each week, only half of these same people eat at least two servings, or about eight ounces, weekly.
"At a time in our nation's history when heart disease is the No. 1 killer and obesity is reaching epidemic proportions, it is essential to educate the public about the benefits of eating fish, rich in proteins, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3s," said NFI president John Connelly. "This is especially important for families; we need to encourage children to include seafood as part of their diet now."
The survey was conducted by the Delaware Sea Grant College Program and University of Rhode Island Nutrition and Food Sciences Department, from July 27 to Aug. 7, 2006. The sample included 1,062 adults, representative of the U.S. population based on age, gender, income, and ethnicity. More detailed findings will be released later in the year.