Recent data from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) 2022 survey reaffirmed the trend of more people looking to follow diets. In this year’s survey, roughly 52% of respondents confirmed following a “diet or eating pattern” in the last year, up 13% from the 2021 survey. The segment driving this increase were those aged below 50.
Interestingly, the top three motivation drivers were:
- Protecting long-term health
- Weight loss
The first point is interesting as it reflects a shift in mindset, especially prevalent among Generation Y and Z. Both of these generations are creating a distinction between wellness and health. As reflected in the survey, Protecting long-term health is related to things like stress management and immunity, a more holistic approach to overall wellness. Weight loss, the second motivation, is more directly tied to health, as people seek diet & activity choices that manage weight, body fat and metabolic factors tied to chronic disease.
The COVID-19 Pandemic & Snacking
There have been a myriad of negative consequences associated with COVID-19, but metabolically, we have seen a huge increase in the amount of snacking as people spend more time at home AND look to sooth emotional stress with food. Estimates are now approaching 75% of Americans are snacking at least once per day, which makes managing healthy weight and metabolic factors much more difficult as the snack choices are largely high in sugar, fat and empty, processed calories. The good news is people are looking to make a change, with 30% of Americans reporting weight loss management is an important goal. The bad news, we have a LONG way to go…
Stop Me If You’ve Heard This Before
In a bit of research that apparently shocked only the researcher from Tufts University, only 7% of Americans are in good cardiometabolic health. What does that mean? Cardiometabolic health is another way to look at the main factors associated with Metabolic Syndrome, something we’ve covered in detail at http://www.business-fit.org.
In this study, researchers looked at cardiometabolic health measures among 55,000 adults who participated in a national health and nutrition survey between 1999 and 2018. While the study highlights variations among groups, what is most sad is how the researcher acts surprised at data that has been staring us in the face for decades (if you’ve been paying attention), immediately includes “structural racism” as part of the reason for poor cardiometabolic scores, and then doubles down on the need for more government food-aid programs and agricultural subsidies/incentives.
Real Change Starts With the Root Cause
None of us should be shocked at the small number of Americans who are in good cardiometabolic health. If you want to understand just one of the biggest chronic metabolic diseases, and one of the highest risk comorbidities for severe symptoms associated with COVID-19, just look at the 2022 data on Type-2 Diabetes. The quality, mix and frequency of what we eat, based on the U.S. Dietary Guidelines that were formally established in 1977, but whose principles extend even earlier, have provided dietary guidelines that are making us sicker, fatter and metabolically diseased at an alarming rate. The solution is not to blame “structural racism” nor is it to apply a socialist welfare ideology by throwing more money at bad government programs and subsidies that will do little to address the root cause of the problem.
The solution is for our government to acknowledge the dietary recommendations of the last 50 years have been a metabolic disaster, listen to current dietary and metabolic thought leaders, change the U.S. Dietary Guidelines to reflect a much different recommendation, then work with industry to encourage a re-focus on reducing the production & use of inflammatory seed oils, processed and sugary foods that wreaked metabolic havoc on our society. To change this trajectory, we need to shift our efforts as a nation toward regenerative farming of quality animal proteins (which, by the way, has sustainability benefits as well), emphasize high quality vegetables while significantly reducing the amount of carbohydrates we consume daily, encouraging people to eat whole, nutrient-dense foods as opposed to processed “food-like” substances, cut out sugar, and embrace high quality fats as an important part of everyday life. Real solutions do not come from government bureaucracy, but from innovators who bring real change through better solutions, like those from Virta Health, which are changing people’s lives everyday based on proper diet and lifestyle changes. The results speak for themselves: