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America’s Growing Appetite for Diets

The percentage of dieters is up from 10 years ago.

Dieting trends for weight loss

Does it seem like more of your friends and clients are dieting these days? It’s not just your imagination. A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Center for Health Statistics shows that 17.1% of U.S. adults were on some form of special diet for weight loss or other health reasons on any given day during 2015–2018. That’s up from about 14% a decade earlier.

The increase comes as obesity rates have continued to climb. The report found that 23% of Americans with obesity said they were on a diet, followed by 17% of people who were overweight and 8% of people with normal or low weight. More women reported being on a diet than men did, and people 40 and older dieted more than those ages 20–39. Notably, the number of people following a low-fat diet decreased during this time as dieters zeroed in on carbs as the enemy.

See also: Are Diets a One-Hit Wonder?


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Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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