Encouraging people to eat a variety of foods may have the unintended consequence of consumption of more unhealthy foods, according to a science advisory from the American Heart Association.
“Current data do not support greater dietary diversity as an effective strategy to promote healthy eating patterns and healthy body weight,” Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, PhD, MS, FAHA, assistant professor in the department of epidemiology, human genetics and environmental science at the UTHealth School of Public Health in Houston, and colleagues wrote.
Otto and colleagues conducted a review of articles on dietary diversity published between 2000 and 2017.
The authors reported that they found no evidence that overall dietary diversity confers healthy weight or optimal eating, that eating a wider variety of foods may delay satiation and increase food consumption and that there is limited evidence that dietary diversity in adults is linked to consumption of more calories, poor eating patterns and weight gain.
“Eating a more diverse diet might be associated with eating a greater variety of both healthy and unhealthy foods,” Otto said in a press release. “Combined, such an eating pattern may lead to increased food consumption and obesity.”
Instead of promoting a diverse diet, clinicians should promote adequate consumption of plant-based foods — including fruits, vegetables, beans and whole grains — low-fat dairy products, nontropical vegetable oils, nuts, poultry and fish, and advise limited consumption of red meat, sweets and sugary drinks, according to the authors, who cited the AHA’s dietary recommendations and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet as examples of healthy eating patterns.
“Selecting a range of healthy foods, which fits one’s budget or taste, and sticking with them, is potentially better at helping people maintain a healthy weight than choosing a greater range of foods that may include less healthy items such as donuts, chips, fries and cheeseburgers, even in moderation,” Otto said in the release. – by Erik Swain
Disclosures: Otto reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the statement for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.