Western pattern diet

Fast food is a typical example of food consumed in a Western pattern diet.

The Western pattern diet, also called Western dietary pattern, the American Standard Diet, or the meat-sweet diet, is a dietary pattern originally identified through principal components analysis or factor analysis to identify commonly associated foods in the diets of several independent cohorts in the United States,[1] It is characterized by higher intakes of red and processed meat, butter, high-fat dairy products, eggs, refined grains, white potatoes, french fries, and high-sugar drinks.[2] It is contrasted with a healthy diet found in the same populations, which has higher levels of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain foods, poultry and fish.[1][3]

Obesity among various developed countries

The western-versus-eastern dichotomy has become less relevant as such a diet is no longer "foreign" to any global region (just as traditional East Asian cuisine is no longer "foreign" to the west), but the term is still a well-understood shorthand in medical literature, regardless of where the diet is found. Other dietary patterns described in the medical research include "drinker" and "meat-eater" patterns.[4] Because of the variability in diets, individuals are usually classified not as simply "following" or "not following" a given diet, but instead by ranking them according to how closely their diets line up with each pattern in turn. The researchers then compare the outcomes between the group that most closely follows a given pattern to the group that least closely follows a given pattern.


This diet is "rich in red meat, dairy products, processed and artificially sweetened foods, and salt, with minimal intake of fruits, vegetables, fish, legumes, and whole grains."[5]

The typical American diet is about 50% carbohydrate, 15% protein, and 35% fat.[6] These macronutrient intakes fall within the Acceptable Macronutrient Distribution Ranges (ADMR) for adults identified by the Food and Nutrition Board of the United States Institute of Medicine as "associated with reduced risk of chronic diseases while providing adequate intakes of essential nutrients," which are 45-65% carbohydrate, 10-35% protein, and 20-35% fat as a percentage of total energy.[7] However, the nutritional quality of the specific foods comprising those macronutrients is often poor, as with the "Western" pattern discussed above. Complex carbohydrates such as starch are believed to be more healthy than the sugar so frequently consumed in the Standard American Diet.[8][9]

For polyunsaturated fat, the high levels of omega-6 fatty acids compared to omega-3 fatty acids in the Western diet is believed to contribute to autoimmune and inflammatory diseases as well as cancer and cardiovascular disease.[10]

A review of eating habits in the United States in 2004 found that about 75% of restaurant meals were from fast-food restaurants, where as only 1% were fine food dining restaurants. Nearly half of the meals ordered from a menu were hamburger, French fries, or poultry and about one third of orders included a carbonated beverage drink.[11] From 1970 to 2008, the per capita consumption of calories increased by nearly one-quarter in the United States and about 10% of all calories were from high-fructose corn syrup.[12]

Health concerns

Compared to a healthy diet, the Western pattern diet, based on epidemiological studies of Westerners, is positively correlated with an elevated incidence of obesity,[3] death from heart disease, cancer (especially colon cancer),[4] and other "Western pattern diet"-related diseases.[8][13] Breast cancer epidemiologists have found that women with a more Western diet have a nominally increased risk of breast cancer that is not statistically significant.[14]

See also


  1. 1 2 Hu, Frank B (February 2002). "Dietary pattern analysis: a new direction in nutritional epidemiology". Curr Opin Lipidol. 13 (1): 3–9. PMID 11790957.
  2. Halton, Thomas L; Willett, Walter C; Liu, Simin; Manson, JoAnn E; Stampfer, Meir J; Hu, Frank B (2006). "Potato and french fry consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in women". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 83 (2): 284–90. PMID 16469985.
  3. 1 2 Fung, Teresa T; Rimm, Eric B; Spiegelman, Donna; Rifai, Nader; Tofler, Geoffrey H; Willett, Walter C; Hu, Frank B (2001-01-01). "Association between dietary patterns and plasma biomarkers of obesity and cardiovascular disease risk". The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 73 (1): 61–7. PMID 11124751.
  4. 1 2 Kesse, E; Clavel-Chapelon, F; Boutron-Ruault, M. (2006). "Dietary Patterns and Risk of Colorectal Tumors: A Cohort of French Women of the National Education System (E3N)". American Journal of Epidemiology. 164 (11): 1085–93. doi:10.1093/aje/kwj324. PMC 2175071Freely accessible. PMID 16990408.
  5. Bloomfield, HE; Kane, R; Koeller, E; Greer, N; MacDonald, R; Wilt, T (November 2015). "Benefits and Harms of the Mediterranean Diet Compared to Other Diets" (PDF). VA Evidence-based Synthesis Program Reports. PMID 27559560.
  6. Last, Allen R.; Wilson, Stephen A. (2006). "Low-Carbohydrate Diets". American Family Physician. 73 (11): 1942–8. PMID 16770923.
  7. Food and Nutrition Board. Institute of Medicine (2005). Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein, and Amino Acids. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. pp. 14–15. doi:10.17226/10490. Retrieved 24 January 2016.
  8. 1 2 Gary Taubes, Is Sugar Toxic?, The New York Times, April 13, 2011
  9. Murtagh-Mark, Carol M.; Reiser, Karen M.; Harris, Robert; McDonald, Roger B. (1995). "Source of Dietary Carbohydrate Affects Life Span of Fischer 344 Rats Independent of Caloric Restriction". The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences. 50A (3): B148–54. doi:10.1093/gerona/50A.3.B148. PMID 7743394.
  10. Simopoulos, Artemis P. (2008). "The Importance of the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio in Cardiovascular Disease and Other Chronic Diseases". Experimental Biology and Medicine. 233 (6): 674–88. doi:10.3181/0711-MR-311. PMID 18408140.
  11. Lobb, Annelena (September 17, 2005). "Eating Habits -- A Look At the Average U.S. Diet". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  12. Philpott, Tom (April 5, 2011). "The American diet in one chart, with lots of fats and sugars". Industrial Agriculture. Grist. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  13. Heidemann, C.; Schulze, M. B.; Franco, O. H.; Van Dam, R. M.; Mantzoros, C. S.; Hu, F. B. (2008). "Dietary Patterns and Risk of Mortality from Cardiovascular Disease, Cancer, and All Causes in a Prospective Cohort of Women". Circulation. 118 (3): 230–7. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.108.771881. PMC 2748772Freely accessible. PMID 18574045.
  14. Brennan, S. F.; Cantwell, M. M.; Cardwell, C. R.; Velentzis, L. S.; Woodside, J. V. (10 March 2010). "Dietary patterns and breast cancer risk: a systematic review and meta-analysis". American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 91 (5): 1294–1302. doi:10.3945/ajcn.2009.28796. PMID 20219961.
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