Most dietitians always recommend people to eat everything in moderation, although not many studies have supported its positive impact on metabolic health. Now, a group of researchers has characterized new measures of diet diversity and has linked less diverse eating patterns to lower diet quality and poor health outcomes.
Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth) investigated diet diversity in 6,814 participants in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Artherosclerosis, a study of whites, blacks, Hispanic-Americans and Chinese-Americans in the US. Different measures were assessed including the total number of food eaten in a week, distribution of calories across foods consumed, and differences in food attributes with respect to metabolic health. The team also followed the volunteers to evaluate whether diet diversity is linked to the change in waistline (after five years) and to the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes (after 10 years).
In their evaluation, they found that both the food count and distribution of calories among food had no associations with both the change in waistline measure and the risk of diabetes. Participants who had much diverse eating patterns reportedly experienced more weight gain, with a 120 percent greater increase in waistline than those following quite the same diet.
After five years from the beginning of the study, diet quality also was found not associated with the change in waistline. However, at ten years, higher diet quality was associated with about a 25 percent lower risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Diet diversity in terms of food count and distribution was also found associated with higher food intakes, regardless whether the food is healthy or unhealthy.
"An unexpected finding was that participants with greater diversity in their diets, as measured by dissimilarity, actually had worse diet quality," says Marcia C. de Oliveira Otto, Ph.D., principal author and assistant professor in UTHealth, in a press release. "They were eating less healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, and more unhealthy foods, such as processed meats, desserts and soda. This may help explain the relationship between greater food dissimilarity and increased waist circumference."
With all these findings, foolowing the modern diets may not at all be beneficial. Eating in moderation is actually worse than eating less healthy foods.
The study appears in PLOS ONE.