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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Diet vs. Drugs - The Great American Showdown

Pills or papayas? Survey finds Americans want healthful foods, not more medicines

If you thought Americans would rather pop a pill to treat illness than make major diet changes, think again. A new survey shows the vast majority would rather change their diets—including trying a vegetarian diet—than use medicines. According to a nationally representative survey of 1,022 adults conducted in mid-January by Opinion Research Corporation, 69 percent of Americans would prefer to try a dietary approach. Just 21 percent preferred treating diabetes with medicines.

It's a miracle! I would have never suspected the numbers to be so high. Of course, there is still that scary 21% of folks that aren't interested in a dietary intervention, opting instead for yet another pill. I'm not a big fan of vegetarian diets as they tend to include a boatload of grains and soy and to be quite low-protein and low-fat. But a vegetarian or vegan diet is superior to what most people are eating on the Standard American Diet, so any change from that is admirable.

Other findings are that women are more likely than men to take the diet option (73% to 65%...I guess we really are hardheaded) and middle-aged folks were much more likely to take the diet option (76%) than senior citizens (59%) or 18-24 year olds (63%). I can understand senior citizens being averse to the dietary option. They've been doing the same thing for 60+ years and it is ingrained. I would expect such a finding. Amongst 18-24 year olds, 30% (!!!!) would take the drugs option. This is likely some combination of the indoctrination of our youth by Big Pharma to see drugs as a panacea and the invincibility of youth. Other findings that are unsurprising are that the Western states and more highly educated are more likely to opt for diet over drugs. In the Western states, you find more healthy folks than in the Midwest and South and it is widely known that education correlates well with health.

But this was a simple survey. It's very easy for people to say "Yeah, I'd try diet." I wonder how many would change their tune once they realized what a dietary intervention would entail. But I do feel hopeful from this news.