“I can’t eat that, I’m on a diet.” How many times have you heard yourself, or a friend, utter that phrase? With Paleo, Whole30, and keto stealing the diet scene, it’s abnormal if you’re not following a certain eating routine at this point. According to the 13th Annual Food and Health Survey commissioned by International Food Information Council Foundation, 36 percent of Americans followed a specific eating pattern or routine within the past year.
That’s a two-and-a-half fold increase since 2017, the survey found. The survey also showed that dieters seem to favor intermittent fasting over other plans like Paleo, Whole30, and keto with folks showing increased aversion towards sugar and carbohydrates. Bye-bye bread. And it turns out that Americans aged 18 to 34 are most likely to follow a diet.
Sure, we all want to look good in a bathing suit or finally don that little black dress, but aesthetics, surprisingly, wasn’t the number one incentive for people to tidy up their eating habits. The top desired benefit is actually improving heart health. In fact, an impressive 20 percent of consumers deemed cardiovascular health as their top diet-derived goal. Weight loss and weight management followed at 18 percent and increased energy at 13 percent.
While it’s certainly inspiring to see people set health-centered goals, many find themselves at a roadblock when it’s time to start. A lowly 38 percent of survey respondents were able to name a food group that they thought can help them reach their goals. Protein was the top food group followed by vegetables, vitamins and minerals, and fruits.
“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,” Joseph Clayton, CEO of the International Food Information Council Foundation, said in a press release.
The study also found that when it comes to mealtime, Americans’ plates drastically differ from the USDA’s MyPlate recommendations, with protein making up the majority of their meal rather than produce. Plus, 37 percent of shoppers bought foods and drinks labeled as “natural,” while 26 percent of consumers ate at restaurants with “natural” food and beverage options. Although this may seem like a step in a healthier direction, the term “natural” doesn’t necessarily equate with health. In fact, that’s just one of the 25 Health-Food Buzzwords often used as marketing ploys.
Check out the infographic below from the International Food Information Council Foundation to learn more about the survey results: