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Better Adherence to Dietary Guidelines Could Save US Billions

The average American currently has an approximate 60% adherence to the Healthy Eating Index. A recent study suggests that if Americans increased adherence to dietary guidelines by 20%, the United States government could save as much as $30 to $45 billion per year.


For this study, the researchers used the Healthy Eating Index and the Mediterranean-style diet scores to assess the impact of a healthy dietary pattern. They examined two scenarios: A conservative scenario, which looked at improving adherence by 20% — from 60% to 72% — and an ambitious scenario, which looked at improving adherence to 80%.


The researchers determined that if adherence to the Healthy Eating Index increased to 72% (which is approximately 20% more than it is now), then the US could save between $30 and $47 billion a year. If adherence went up to 80%, then the researchers estimated savings could be between $52 and $82 billion.


When the researchers looked at the Mediterranean-style diet scores, they found that the average American currently scores 3.5 out of 9 points. If adherence increased by 20%, annual savings would be between $21 and $26 billion. Increasing adherence to 80% would result in annuals savings of $112 to $135 billion.


Researchers from the consulting firm Exponent led the study. It was presented at the Nutrition 2018 conference, which was held the week of June 9, 2018 and hosted by the American Society for Nutrition.

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