You're eating healthier these days, but is it as healthy as you think?

You’re eating healthier these days, but is it as healthy as you think?

By Dennis Thompson, HealthDay reporter

(health day)

MONDAY, Oct 31, 2022 (HealthDay News) – People trying to adopt a healthy diet A new study has discovered that they may not be the best judges of how well you actually eat.

Researchers have found that only one in four people can accurately estimate their health when asked to rate their diet after a year spent trying to lose weight.

Even worse, only 1 in 10 people understood how their diet actually changed during that year, and most assumed they had made much greater strides than they actually did.

“There is not a very good agreement between what they see as their diet quality and what we judged their diet quality,” the lead researcher said. “They also overestimate the amount of change they made in the quality of their diet.” Jessica Cheng. She is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston.

“So that was the really big meal here, there might be some disconnect between people trying to diet with both how healthy their diet they think they think their diet is and how much change they think they have made in their diet over the course of trying to lose weight. its weight”.

Cheng will present these findings at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting this weekend, which takes place in Chicago and virtually. Results presented at medical meetings are considered preliminary until they are published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Almost half of Americans try to lose weight each year, the researchers said in Background Notes.

But previous research has shown that people tend to overestimate their commitment to healthy eating habits such as eating fruits and vegetables, choosing whole grains, choosing lean proteins, and substituting fat-free or low-fat dairy products for full-fat versions.

To get an idea of ​​how far apart people can be, researchers evaluated the diets of 116 adults between the ages of 35 and 58 in the Pittsburgh area who were trying to lose weight.

Incompatibility between perception and reality

Participants individually met with a dietitian to discuss their nutrition, then tracked everything they ate and drank each day for one year on the Fitbit app.

At the beginning, middle, and end of the one-year study, participants were asked to complete a 24-hour food recall questionnaire – essentially a self-assessment of how well they were eating, based on their personal memories. Participants also recorded the quality of their diet at the beginning and end.

The researchers used actual eating data and participants’ memories to calculate two separate healthy eating index (HEI), one based on real diet numbers and the other based on people’s perceptions of what they eat.

The HEI is a measure of how well an eating pattern aligns with the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Score ranges from 0 to 100, with a higher score indicating a healthy diet.

The researchers found that only 27% of subjects had a self-assessment consistent with their actual grades at a higher education institution by the end of the study.

“Only a quarter of the sample were in good agreement, which means 75% of them were in a situation,” Cheng said. “Most of this disagreement comes from people who overestimate how good their diet is.”

The mean perceived HEI score was 67.6, while the actual mean score was 56.4.

“They think they are about 10 or 15 points higher than the healthy eating index would suggest,” Cheng said.

To put these scores into perspective, Federalism healthy people 2020 The initiative set a goal of improving Americans’ diet to an average HEI score of about 74, Cheng said.

The researchers also asked the participants to judge how much their HEI scores improved during the year of dieting.

These results were even more so, with only 13% of people accurately evaluating how well their regular diet had improved.

Diet tracking tools can help

“When you look at the amount of change in the healthy eating index over the course of the study, it was one to two points, which isn’t much on a 100-point scale,” Cheng said. “But when you ask them, they think they change the quality of their diet, on average, by about 18 to 19 points.”

These findings are “extremely important” for understanding “the discrepancies between perceived and actual health behaviors,” said Deepika Ladow, chair of the American Heart Association’s Council on Lifestyle Behavioral Change to Improve Health Factors.

“If we don’t understand initial perceptions and intentions of what a healthy diet is, it can – as we have seen with these findings – lead to an overestimation and consumption of foods that are perceived as healthy,” Lado said. He is an assistant professor in the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago. “This in turn can lead to weight gain, not to mention growing frustration with not achieving personal weight loss goals.”

Cheng believes that people have a general understanding of what a healthy diet entails, and simply need better training and assessment tools to get a realistic understanding of how good their food is.

After all, wearable trackers help people gain an accurate understanding of their daily step count, nightly sleep quality and average heart rate. Using an accurate diet tracker can play a similar role.

“The diet advice that is out there is very confusing for people and people have a hard time dealing with it, but I think they really know the basics,” Cheng said. “People know that fruits and vegetables are good for them, and there’s not much dispute about that.

“So I say, take a step back and think about your basics,” Cheng said. “Do you eat fruits and vegetables? Can I increase fruits and vegetables? Think of the analogy, if I can. Really sit down and say, How many vegetables did I eat on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and can I increase it?”

Federal government class The program is a good place to start, if people want a relatively simple guide to healthy eating, Cheng added.

“It gives you a nice visual description of what you should be eating,” Cheng said.

The USDA has more about class.

SOURCES: Jessica Cheng, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Epidemiology, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston; Deepika Ladu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois Chicago; American Heart Association, Scientific Sessions Summary and Press Release, October 31, 2022

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