Everything in Moderation is Bad Diet Advice?

Aaron writes:

“I just saw this article on the How Stuff Works Blog. I know you’ve talked about “eating in moderation” on the podcast, so I thought you might have an opinion.”


My initial take was that the blogger seemed to be confused about what the study was about. But when I looked at the study itself, it looks like the confusion comes from the researchers.

Neither the design nor the results of this study support their conclusion that moderation is bad advice, unless they’re taking the “everything” part of “eat everything in moderation” awfully literally! I’m certainly not in favor of eating “everything.”

This study doesn’t address moderation in any way. It’s about the variety and diversity of food choices. Here’s what they found.

Eating a great variety of food was weakly associated with improved diet quality but didn’t impact weight or disease risk.  Greater diversity in the diet (i.e. not just soup-to-nuts but  kale-to-deep-fried-Twinkies) was weakly associated with weight gain but not with other disease risks.

And finally, they come to the not surprising conclusion that the benefits of a varied diet are maximized when you eat a variety of wholesome foods. If you’re eating crap, eating a greater variety of it doesn’t help. But I’d argue that moderation probably would!

See also: The Dangers of Moderation

4 thoughts on “Everything in Moderation is Bad Diet Advice?

    1. Thanks, Catherine. Great to meet you at the Oldways Common Ground Summit this week. Looking forward to working together with you to get that message out!

  1. I was thinking the exact same thing about this paper! I’ve seen it posted so many times on social media and it’s such an unfortunate message they are sending. Thanks for providing a succinct, clear description of what’s wrong with it!

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