‘Realistic shift' in diet could save the US up to $38 billion annually
A 20% increase in adherence to the Healthy Eating Index could result in savings of as much as $38 billion in health-related costs, according to findings presented at Nutrition 2018, the first-ever flagship meeting of the American Society for Nutrition.
Carolyn Scrafford, PhD, MPH, senior managing scientist at Exponent, and colleagues looked at estimates from the Healthy Eating Index 2015, an eating pattern that, according to a press release, currently has about a 60% adherence among average U.S. adults. Researchers also looked at Mediterranean diet adherence, on which the average U.S. adult currently scores about 3.5 out of 9 possible points, according to the release.
Scrafford and colleagues analyzed risk estimates to quantify the link between dietary patterns and health outcomes such as Alzheimer’s disease cancer, CVD, hip fracture, stroke and type 2 diabetes. They accommodated double counting by adjusting costs to minimize potential overlap of comorbidities. Costs were in 2017 dollars.
Researchers found that when adherence to the Mediterranean diet increased by 20%, overall modelled cost savings were $25.7 billion (range = $11.6 to $37.8 billion). A similar change in adherence to the Healthy Eating Index 2015 led to a $38.1 billion (range = $29.7 to $46.8 billion) in savings.
“That’s a significant saving from what we believe is a realistic shift in diet quality,” Scrafford said in the release.
Researchers also found that if diet quality of adults living in the United States reached 80% of the highest possible Healthy Eating Index 2015 and Mediterranean diet score cost savings were estimated at $66.9 billion (range = $51.9 to $81.9 billion) and $135 billion (range = $61.5 to $200 billion), respectively.
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“Our results suggest that it’s worthwhile to educate Americans on these dietary patterns and their components, to encourage them to make little changes to improve their diet quality,” Scrafford said in the release. – by Janel Miller
Reference: Scrafford C, et al. Healthcare costs and savings associated with increased adherence to healthy dietary patterns among adults in the United States. Presented at Nutrition 2018, June 9-12, Boston.
Disclosure: Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine authors relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.