New Survey Shows Changes in American Diet Trends

  Photo Credit: © The International Food Information Council Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Photo Credit: © The International Food Information Council Foundation. All Rights Reserved.

Many Americans appear to be ditching low-fat diets for higher-fat foods in hopes of improving heart health and losing weight -- according to a recent survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation on more than 1,000 Americans, ages 18 to 80.

Roughly 36 percent of respondents reported following a specific diet, according to the survey. Of those on a diet, nearly 25 percent chose plans with more fat or protein. Some seven percent followed a paleo diet, six percent low-carb, five percent Whole30, four percent high-protein, and three percent ketogenic. 

Ten percent of respondents reported following a regime of intermittent fasting, or cycling between periods of fasting and eating, during a defined period of time. 

The report did not include data on the other 64 percent of survey respondents who elected not to share specific dietary preferences.

Overall, the survey suggests that Americans are increasingly trading carbohydrates for fats. Twenty-five percent of survey respondents blamed carbohydrates for their growing waistlines -- up from 20 percent last year, while 33 percent blamed sugar. These numbers are both at "the highest since 2011," according to the report. Only 16 percent blamed fats for weight gain, and just three percent fingered protein. 

The survey data also implies that Americans are increasingly concerned about eating natural and organic foods. Twenty-nine percent of respondents said they bought foods marked as "organic," while 37 percent of shoppers purchased foods with "natural" labels.

The survey also analyzed the motivations of choosing any particular diet. Twenty percent of respondents ranked cardiovascular health as their main incentive for eating well, while 18 percent cited weight management, and 13 percent aimed to increase their energy levels.

It is troubling yet predictable in the current environment of dietary confusion that nearly four in ten participants said they didn't know how to best achieve their health goals. Ten percent speculated that protein would help, followed by seven percent who thought vegetables could be key. Another five percent believed vitamins and minerals were important, while just four percent looked to fruits as the solution.  

In seeking advice, survey respondents said that they most trusted government agency advice -- despite the fact that the US-HHS-USDA dietary guidelines, which have historically promoted high-carb diets, have self-evidently failed to combat the epidemics of obesity and diabetes in America.   

Click here to read more on the IFIC survey.