Nearly 1 in 5 Americans Follows ‘Special’ Diet

By Serena Gordon HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, November 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) – You’ve undoubtedly heard friends complaining about not being able to eat bread because they were on a Keto diet, or maybe it was Paleo, or a low-level plan. carbs or maybe they were giving up gluten. It is difficult to follow.

This is because many Americans are on special diets. Every day, about one in six Americans report eating a “special” diet, according to a new US government study.

A special diet can be a diet to lose weight or a diet aimed at improving health, such as a low-carb diet for a person with diabetes or avoiding gluten for a person with celiac disease.

“About half of American adults suffer from diet-related chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes. Special diets are a way for many adults to prevent, treat and manage. these diseases, ”the supervised research team wrote. by Dr Bryan Stierman. It is from the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) in the United States.

But if you’re healthy and don’t have a chronic illness, you probably don’t need a special diet, said dietitian Liz Weinandy. She works at the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus.

Even if you need to lose weight – as many Americans do – “dieting, in general, doesn’t work,” Weinandy said. “Diets generally don’t lead to long-term success because they don’t produce changes in behavior. It’s best to look at your general eating habits: do you eat a lot of highly processed foods? Do you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables? And then try to develop healthier models, ”she advised.

“That’s probably not the answer most people want to hear. It may seem too general to say to follow a healthy pattern, eating mostly fruits, vegetables and whole grains without eating too many processed foods. People can look for more specific rules and guidelines to follow, and the multi-billion dollar food industry provides them, ”Weinandy said.

The study found that more than 9% of Americans aged 20 and over were on a diet or low-calorie diet. Just over 2% said they were on a diabetes diet, and 2% said they had low carbohydrate intake. Almost 2% reported eating a diet low in fat or cholesterol.


Overall, 17% of Americans reported eating a special diet on any given day from 2017 to 2018. That’s an increase of about 14% from 2007 to 2008.

From 2015 to 2018, women were slightly more likely than men to say they were on a special diet.

Whites were the racial or ethnic group most likely to follow a special diet (18%). About 16% of Hispanics reported following a special diet, followed closely by about 15% of black and Asian adults.

Dietitian Katrina Hartog is the clinical nutrition manager at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. She said: “While the data and information presented in the report may be useful in noting that adults are trying to follow special diets that may ultimately change their risk of chronic disease, there is still more information needed to be learned. major conclusions.

Hartog said the word diet generally refers to a “temporary and restrictive diet program to lose weight.”

Like Weinandy, Hartog also said that diets tend to offer only short-term benefits.

“Low-calorie or fad diets are difficult to maintain and people often gain weight. Consider losing the diet mindset and focusing on lifestyle changes. Lifestyle change consisting of adopting general healthy habits that promote weight control and long-term health, ”Hartog said.

However, not everyone who follows a special diet does it for weight loss. Weinandy said some people need to follow more restrictive diets for their health. She said ketogenic diets can be helpful for people with epilepsy. People with celiac disease or gluten intolerance should avoid wheat protein. People with allergies to certain foods should avoid eating them, and people with irritable bowel syndrome often benefit from removing certain foods from their diet.

Weinandy said it’s best to work with a dietitian to make sure you’re not completely removing important nutrients from your diet.

The study was published November 3 in the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Summary of NCHS data.


More information

The American Heart Association offers advice on how to eat well without dieting.

SOURCES: Liz Weinandy, RD, MPH, Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, Columbus; Katrina Hartog, RD, clinical nutrition manager, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York; NCHS data sheet, November 3, 2020, online

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