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What we eat has important implications for our health–and for what we spend on healthcare. New research suggests improving the quality of the average American’s diet could substantially reduce costs associated with heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other major health problems.

The study is the first to comprehensively analyze the potential cost implications of improved adherence to healthy dietary patterns (as measured by the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) and the Mediterranean-style diet (MED) score) among US adults across major chronic disease types. Previous research has focused on specific populations or specific conditions, such as heart disease.

“We found that increasing adherence to healthy dietary patterns by even 20 percent at a population level has the potential to save more than $20 billion in both direct and indirect costs associated with 10 major health outcomes,” said lead study author Dr. Carolyn Scrafford, senior managing scientist at Exponent, a scientific consulting firm. “That’s a significant saving from what we believe is a realistic shift in diet quality.”

Scrafford will present the research at the American Society for Nutrition annual meeting during Nutrition 2018, held June 9-12, 2018 in Boston. The research project was funded by the National Dairy Council.

Scrafford’s team

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