Dieters overestimate the healthiness of their habits – Medical News

There can be a difference between what health professionals consider a healthy, balanced diet and what the public thinks

American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2022 Abstract 385, Study Finds

According to preliminary research to be presented at the American Heart Association’s 2022 Scientific Sessions, in a small study, most adults who want to lose weight overestimated healthy eating. The meeting, taking place in person and virtually in Chicago on November 5-7, 2022, represents the premier global exchange of the latest scientific advances, research and evidence-based clinical practice updates in cardiovascular science.

“We found that although people generally know that fruits and vegetables are healthy, there may be a difference between what researchers and health professionals consider a healthy, balanced diet and what the public thinks is a healthy, balanced diet,” said the study’s author. Jessica Cheng, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in epidemiology at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health and general internal medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, both in Boston. This research was conducted while Dr. Cheng was a predoctoral fellow/Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health.

Nearly half of U.S. adults try to lose weight each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and most try to eat more fruits, vegetables and salads. A healthy diet is essential for your heart, general health and longevity. The American Heart Association’s 2021 Dietary Guidelines advise adults to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables; opt for whole grains instead of refined grains; choose healthy protein sources; replace low-fat and low-fat dairy products with full-fat versions; choose lean cuts of meat (for carnivores); use liquid vegetable oils instead of tropical oils and animal fats; choose minimally processed foods instead of ultra-processed ones; minimize foods and drinks with added sugar; choose foods with little or no added salt; and limit or avoid alcohol.

Researchers evaluated the diets of 116 adults ages 35 to 58 in the greater Pittsburgh, PA area who were trying to lose weight. Study participants met in person with a dietitian to discuss their diet and then logged everything they ate and drank each day on a Fitbit app for a year. They also weighed themselves daily and used a Fitbit device to track their physical activity.

The researchers calculated the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) at the beginning and end of the study based on the types of food participants reported eating. Participants were asked to complete a 24-hour food withdrawal for two days at each time point. The HEI is a measure of how well a dietary pattern conforms to the US government’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. A possible score is from 0 to 100; a higher score indicates a healthier diet. The result is based on the frequency of consumption of various components of the diet, such as fruits, vegetables, whole and refined grains, meat and seafood, sodium, fats and sugars.

Participants self-assessed the quality of their initial and final diets to determine their perceived outcomes. Their scores were also on a scale of 0 to 100 based on the components of higher education. The self-report of their initial diet was a “retrospective view,” in the sense that they rated both the initial and final diets at the end of the study. The difference in their initial and final score was their perceived dietary change. A difference of 6 points or less between the HEI researcher’s score and the participant’s perceived score was considered ‘good agreement’.

At the end of the study, the scores of approximately 1 in 4 participants were in good agreement between their perceived diet score and the researcher-assessed score. Remaining results of 3 out of 4 participants slightly agreed, with the majority reporting a perceived score higher than the college score assigned by the researchers. The mean perceived grade was 67.6 and the mean HEI was 56.4.

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