One third of Americans report that they follow some kind of diet in a recent survey – but just as many people are still obese in the US.
Though sugar is still blamed for most weight-gain, more people than ever are choosing intermittent fasting and carb-cutting to get control of their diets.
Still, almost exactly the same proportion of the American population is overweight or obese as is dieting.
The survey, distributed and published by the International Food Information Council Foundation, found that most dieters had shifted their focus to heart health from weight loss – but are still unsure of the best foods to eat to accomplish their goals.
More than one in every three Americans adheres to some kind of dietary plan, but many of them still eat the wrong foods to meet their heart health goals, a new survey found
Of the participants in the latest Annual Food and health Survey, 36 percent are following a some form of eating regimen.
Meanwhile, 35.5 percent of adults are overweight or obese.
In recent years, shedding pounds for the sole sake of slimming down has fallen out of fashion, an encouraging trend to the minds of nutritionists and public health experts.
Instead, Americans have turned their focus toward improving their overall health, and so diet programs and companies – perhaps, most famously, Weight Watchers -have become ‘wellness’ brands.
Heart health, sustainable eating, and good taste (without artificial flavoring) are the highest priorities for most people as they pick out what to put on their plates.
An infographic from IFIC’s 2018 survey breaks down what consumers are eating, what they say they want to gain from their diets and where they are going wrong
Yet trendy diet plans like intermittent fasting and carbohydrate-cutting diets like the Paleo plan still attract the most devoted followings.
As of the latest survey, 10 percent of Americans say they subscribe to intermittent fasting, seven percent eat Paleo, and five percent or fewer follow low-carb, high-protein, ketogenic or Whole30 diet plans.
Intermittent fasting has shown promise as an effective weight-loss plan that may have benefits for cognitive health and blood pressure.
However, it may also be a risky choice for those on medications for heart disease or blood pressure because the electrolyte abnormalities fasting induces can be dangerous to them.
There is little evidence to suggest, however, that intermittent fasting has any more benefit for heart health than other diet plans do.
Similarly, despite its popularity, many nutritionists have decried the Paleo diet because the low- to no-carb diet is still a long ways off providing optimal nutritional values.
Americans have also developed a better understanding for what makes up a healthy meal – but that doesn’t mean they have gotten much better about eating one.
Well-balanced meals are about one third vegetables, 20 percent each fruits and grains and 29 percent protein, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
In the survey, respondents got pretty close to that in their estimates of what they should eat but, in actuality, most people’s meals are nearly 40 percent protein, 29 percent protein, 20 percent grains and only 12 percent fruit.
‘This dietary disconnect – the inability to connect specific foods and nutrients to desired health outcomes – illustrates the need for stronger, clearer, nutrition education based on the best available evidence,’ said Joseph Clayton, CEO of the IFIC Foundation.
There are some encouraging signs of movement in that direction among the general public.
According to the survey’s results, consumers have gotten far more trusting of the government’s nutritional guidance, but US officials still fall far below the ranking of friends, family and health care professionals for trustworthiness in the public eye.
‘Consumers continue to rely heavily on nutrition information sources they admit they don’t trust,’ said Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, IFIC’s vice president for research and partnerships.
She added: ‘This may speak to the public confusion we have consistently found on topics of nutrition and food safety.’