SACAD: John Heinrichs Scholarly and Creative Activity Days


The quality of American diets, measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI), has remained stable and low since 2005. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020–2025 call for research analyzing dietary patterns to determine how guidelines might be altered to increase healthy eating. The present paper seeks to determine the dietary quality of popular fad dietary patterns among Americans. A definition of “fad diet” was created, and Google Trends© was searched for popular diets to determine popular dietary patterns based on the fad diet definition. Finally, eight dietary patterns were identified for inclusion. One-week sample menus were created for each dietary pattern, maximizing alignment with the DGAs but staying within the dietary pattern parameters, and then scored according to the HEI 2015 to determine the dietary quality. Total HEI scores ranged from 26.7 (Carnivore) to 89.1 (Low-FODMAP); the six highest total HEI scores were in the range of 77.1–89.1 out of 100 points. This analytical approach showed that some of the included popular fad dietary patterns have the potential to attain a high dietary quality. Rather than suggesting one “best” diet or dietary pattern, there is opportunity to maximize dietary quality in the context of dietary patterns that are considered fad diets.


Health and Human Performance

Submission Type

in-person poster




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