In a recent study published in Nutrients, researchers identified the most “popular” fad dietary patterns in the United States of America (USA), evaluated their dietary quality per the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), and presented opportunities for maximizing their nutritional quality.
Study: Opportunities for Maximizing the Dietary Quality of Fad Diets. Image Credit: Creative Cat Studio/Shutterstock.com
Research suggests that most Americans follow a Westernized diet high in saturated and trans fats, sodium, sugar, and calories. Americans also overconsume refined grains, animal proteins, and alcoholic beverages.
Furthermore, around 80% of Americans habitually consume fewer fruits, vegetables, and fibers than recommended by the DGA.
Put simply, despite concerted policy-based and programmatic efforts to educate people about nutrition and healthy diets, most Americans do not follow public dietary guidelines.
Accordingly, the population scored low on the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) from 2005 to 2016, as revealed in the DGA survey 2020–2025. Reports also suggest that 17% of American adults followed a special diet during 2015–2018.
Given the importance of dietary quality for long-term health, the quality of the American diet needs improvement. However, that requires detailed know-how of what Americans eat or popular fad diets in America.
About the study
In the present study, researchers identified the most “popular” fad dietary patterns in the USA and used the HEI scores to evaluate their dietary quality compared to the DGAs.
First, two independent researchers compiled a database of definitions and diet attributes from peer-reviewed sources, websites, popular books, and blogs, wherein they specifically used the keyword “fad diet” to identify common themes.
Common themes that appeared most frequently were then used as a framework to establish a comprehensive working definition of a fad diet.
Next, they thoroughly searched Google Trends©, using the most widely searched terms or phrases related to fad diets to identify the ‘popular’ fad dietary patterns for inclusion in the current study.