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NEW YORK -- A survey of more than 500 registered dietitians has identified 14 diet, nutrition and food trends that will influence food purchases in the year to come. Pollock Communications, a New York-based public relations agency, and Today's Dietitian magazine teamed up on the survey.
The trends are as follows:
- No-wheat diets: Consumers will continue to seek out wheat- or gluten-elimination plans like the Paleo diet, gluten-free or "wheat belly," despite little evidence that such diets lead to weight loss or better health, aside from those with a clinical disorder or disease relating to wheat or gluten.
- Ancient grains gain: Despite the popularity of some low-grain diets, ancient grains are back once more in 2014.
- Kale, coconut and chia seeds: While 32 percent of the dietitians polled predicted greater interest in ancient grains, 27 percent said that kale would be a big deal. In the realm of ingredients, 37 percent of dietitians pegged coconut oil as a popular addition to recipes, followed by omega-3-, ALA-rich chia seeds (32 percent).
- Low-fat diets weaken: The dietitians surveyed predicted that low-fat diets would lose a lot of steam in 2014.
- Promoting MyPlate: Seventy-five percent of the dietitians surveyed said they employed MyPlate to help people eat right.
- "Health" as a top priority: Ninety-five percent of the dietitians polled said that "health" is important to shoppers, as reflected by the fact that "supermarket dietitian" is the fastest-growing job classification in grocery stores across the county.
- Celebrity influence:. Sixty-six percent of the dietitians surveyed predicted that TV doctors would increase the number of diet discussions in 2014, along with more food talk from celebrity trainers and chefs.
- Healthy by comparison: Consumers are increasingly comparing themselves to recommendations from TV personalities and health-focused shows, according to 34 percent of the dietitians polled. Other ways consumers gauge their health and weight is by looking to friends and family.
- Nutrition and health bloggers: The dietitians who took part in the survey reported that the topic of nutrition and health is increasingly popular on blogs and websites.
- Misinformation spreads: As much as 67 percent of nutrition information is based on personal beliefs and half-truths rather than published peer-reviewed research, the dietitians in the survey reported, and, 75 percent said there would be a lot more misinformation to sift through in 2014.
- Eco-conscious foods: About 38 percent of dietitians surveyed said that more shoppers were seeking out local products, and 31 percent reported that that their clients looked for sustainable foods when at the grocery store.
- Complacency about weight: Noting that the national averages for body weight haven't changed, 44 percent of dietitians polled said they believed that more consumers were coming to terms with being overweight, rather than actively trying to lose weight.
- Fruits and veggies first: Most of the dietitians surveyed advised that the most important first step to improve overall health was to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables.
- Consumers starved for nutrition and diet information: According to 66 percent of the survey's respondents, consumers' interest in nutrition and weight loss is poised to grow even more 2014.
"When it comes to food and nutrition, registered dietitians are the go-to resource for consumers, brands and the media, so it's important to listen to their predictions," said Louise Pollock, founder and president of Pollock Communications, an independent, full-service, food, health and wellness public relations agency.