Study: Why many people think their food is healthier than it is

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Most people have no idea how healthy their diet is, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Central Arkansas.

According to the study’s authors, 85 percent of the approximately 10,000 participants misjudged their own diet. What experts have classified as unhealthy, many have classified as healthy food.

Most study participants lacked whole grains, legumes, and seafood to eat healthily.

Most people tend to be wrong when it comes to how well they eat. Especially if you think you are eating particularly healthy, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Nutrition Society in June.

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the University of Central Arkansas examined data from 9,757 adult Americans who were asked to complete a diet survey and rated their diet on a scale from “bad” to “excellent.” The researchers then assessed participants’ eating habits and awarded points for consuming fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and proteins, as well as the amount of processed foods, refined cereals, sugar, and saturated fats.

They found that 85 percent of participants misjudged their own diet. Almost all subjects estimated that their diet was healthier than it actually was. “Most adults overestimate their eating habits,” said Jessica Thomson, the study’s lead author and research epidemiologist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Many people eat too few whole grains, vegetables, legumes and seafood

About 71 percent of participants rated their diet as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent,” and six percent rated their diet as “very bad.” On the contrary, the experts rated the eating habits of the participants as healthy in only 12 percent and gave 70 percent of the diets the lowest possible mark, ie “very bad”. As a result, researchers found that people were more likely to be right when they rated their eating habits as poor.

What is striking about the results of the study: participants often lacked whole grains, vegetables, legumes, seafood and plant proteins to eat healthily. Instead, many ate too much sodium and saturated protein or foods high in protein.

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Previous research has also shown that diet evaluation tools, such as calorie counts, can be very inaccurate. This means that the information on the packaging or calorie information will often not protect you from junk food. However, according to the author of the study, Thomson, it is not clear why people find it so difficult to properly assess their own diet. According to her, possible reasons may be that they lack the right information or that their own pious desires prevail.

“Until we understand what individuals take into account when assessing the health of their diet, it will be difficult to determine how to improve self-esteem,” Thomson said in a report.

There is no precise definition of a healthy diet, but there are guidelines

The diets studied in the study were ranked according to how exactly they followed the American dietary guidelines. Dietary patterns associated with long-term health and well-being include a diet rich in plant foods such as vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and fruits.

Processed foods are consistently associated with poorer health outcomes, such as a higher risk of heart disease, cancer and inflammation. The healthiest diets include the Mediterranean diet, which focuses on lots of fresh vegetables and fish, the Blue Zones diet, which consists of up to 95 percent of plant foods, and the flexitarian diet, which consists of meat three or more days a week. avoids.

This English text was translated by Lisa Ramos-Doce. You can find the original here.

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