Better Dietary Patterns Among US Adults Could Save Billions

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Cost savings of $25.7B and $38.1B based on 20% increase in adherence to MED, HEI-2015.
Cost savings of $25.7B and $38.1B based on 20% increase in adherence to MED, HEI-2015.

HealthDay News — Increased adherence to healthy dietary patterns could result in health care savings from improved health outcomes, according to a study presented during Nutrition 2018, the annual meeting of the American Society for Nutrition, held from June 9 to 12 in Boston.

Using the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) or the Mediterranean-style diet (MED) scores, Carolyn Scrafford, PhD, MPH, from Exponent Inc. in Washington, DC, and colleagues assessed the impact on health care costs of increased adherence to healthy eating patterns among US adults. The resulting change in risk was combined with published data on annual health care and indirect costs in order to estimate cost. 

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The researchers found that based on a 20% increase in the MED and HEI-2015 scores, the overall modelled cost savings were $25.7 billion and $38.1 billion, respectively. The cost savings resulted from reductions in cardiovascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes for both scores, and included Alzheimer's disease and hip fractures for the MED. Cost savings were estimated at $66.9 and $135 billion, respectively, if the diet quality of US adults were to improve to achieve 80% of the maximum HEI-2015 and MED scores.

"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 a statement.

The authors are employees of Exponent Inc.; the study was partially funded by the National Dairy Council.

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