December 1, 2022


Health for a better future

Study Shows How to Improve Popular Diets in the U.S.

Study Shows How to Improve Popular Diets in the U.S.

Newswise — Washington D.C. — Many Americans have adopted popular diets for general health improvement that limit specific foods, macronutrients (like carbohydrates) or eating time. National survey data shows that although the overall quality of these diet patterns vary greatly, all would benefit from a few simple food substitutions.

The new study examined the quality of popular diet patterns in the US and modeled the effect of targeted food substitutions on diet quality.

The paper, which recently appeared in the journal Current Developments in Nutrition, concludes that “low diet quality was observed for all popular diet patterns evaluated in this study.”

The authors reviewed dietary data for over 34,000 adults from 2005-2018. They applied what’s called the “Healthy Eating Index-2015” to evaluate the diet quality and then modeled diet changes to identify substitutions with the most impact on improving quality of popular restriction diets.

They found that food substitutions that reduce sugar, sodium, saturated fat and refined grains simultaneously were more effective than targeting one of these single dietary components.  

They concluded that “[m]odeled dietary shifts that align with recommendations to choose foods lower in added sugar, sodium, saturated fat, and refined grains led to modest improvements in diet quality and larger reductions of energy intake”.

The scientists from the College of William & Mary and The Ohio State University noted that “Greater efforts are needed to encourage consumer adoption of dietary patterns that emphasize consumption of a variety of high-quality food groups rather than a singular focus on individual nutrients or foods.”

The study was funded by the Institute for the Advancement of Food and Nutrition Sciences (IAFNS), which is committed to leading positive change across the food and beverage ecosystem. The research above was supported by IAFNS Carbohydrates Committee. IAFNS is a 501(c)(3) science-focused nonprofit uniquely positioned to mobilize government, industry and academia to drive, fund and lead actionable research.