fbpx Skip to content


Hair Samples Reveal American Diet

Your hair reveals a lot about your food preferences.

| Earn 1 CEC - Take Quiz

Hair samples and American diet

Despite the rise of plant-based eating, it seems Americans still prefer cheeseburgers to veggie burgers. And the proof was gathered on the beauty shop floor. Researchers from the University of Utah scrutinized chemical traces in discarded hair from barbers and hair salons in 65 cities across the United States and found that corn-fed animal-derived proteins like beef and dairy account for 57% of the content of American diets, on average. Variations in carbon isotopes found in hair reflect those found in different food products, making this method an intriguing way to understand dietary choices among different population groups.

As reported in the journal PNAS, the amount of protein consumed was also found to be higher in ZIP codes with a lower socioeconomic status, where corn-fed animal-derived protein accounted for as much as 75% of diets. What’s more, the authors discovered that the isotope ratios reflecting a higher proportion of animal-based protein in the diets of certain ZIP codes were correlated with elevated obesity rates.

See also: Americans Are Still Eating a Lousy Diet


Concerned about your place in the new fitness industry? We have 40 years of experience supporting pros just like you! Let’s create a new wellness paradigm together—IDEAfit+ is the extra edge you need. Once you team up with IDEA, be sure to take full advantage of all the benefits of membership.

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.

When you buy something using the retail links in our content, we may earn a small commission. IDEA Health and Fitness Association does not accept money for editorial reviews. Read more about our Terms & Conditions and our Privacy Policy.


Subscribe to our Newsletter

Stay up tp date with our latest news and products.