Physician insights on popular diets and nutritional trends

  • 80% of physicians pick environmental factors (including fast food, sedentary lifestyle) versus genetics (3%) as contributing most to the U.S. obesity epidemic
  • 51% say the best diet for long-term health is the Mediterranean Diet; only 5% pick Ketogenic diet
  • 60% agree that high carb diets are more harmful than high fat diets

New York, New York – December 11, 2019 – Sermo, the leading global social platform for physicians and largest healthcare data collection company, has conducted a study on the current and future state of nutrition and dieting in the United States. The study of 515 U.S. physicians across 27 specialties was fielded using RealTime, Sermo’s quick turnaround healthcare professional (HCP) survey platform.

Findings revealed that:

  • 80% of physicians surveyed blame environmental factors (such as fast food, time spent in front of the television or computer) versus genetics (3%) for the high obesity rates in the U.S.
  • Seven out of 10 physicians believe that more than half of U.S. adults will be obese by 2030, a sharp increase from the current obesity rate of 40%. This prediction aligns with the CDC’s recent findings that a fifth of U.S. adolescents and a quarter of young adults have prediabetes.

“Our genetics have not changed much in 200 years. What has changed massively is the availability of inexpensive, high calorie foods coupled with an increasingly sedentary lifestyle,” said Dr. Murali Doraiswamy, professor of psychiatry and medicine at Duke University School of Medicine and a scientific advisor to Sermo. “Obesity will become our destiny unless we radically change our health policies, food environment, and habits.”

The survey also provides insights to address our sedentary lifestyle and the U.S.’ relationship with food.

  • 85% of physicians think insurance companies should cover dietician visits to help educate overweight patients on proper nutrition even if they do not have any metabolic abnormalities.
  • 65% of doctors recommend that employers give employees a paid exercise hour.
  • 56% of physicians support imposing a tax on sugar sweetened beverages.
  • Top strategies for long-term weight loss maintenance are mindful eating (78%), exercise programs (78%) and self-monitoring (53%).
  • The best diet to follow for long-term optimal health is the Mediterranean diet (51%) when compared to DASH (16%), ketogenic (5%), Whole 30 (5%) and vegan (6%).
  • 60% agree that high carb diets are more harmful than high fat diets.
  • 44% take effects on the environment/climate change into account when recommending diets to patients.  

How do physicians think nutrition and diet will evolve in the coming years?

  • 53% of physicians believe highly personalized nutrition, based on testing an individual’s genetics, metabolism or microbiome, will be available for routine use in the next 5-10 years.
  • 52% think lab grown meats are NOT likely to be healthier than natural meats.
  • There is growing recognition among physicians (27%) of plant protein as sufficient for good health. Only 9% feel that meat protein alone is best for optimal health. 64% chose combination of both.

“There is so much confusion around food and diet. It’s a topic that dominates headlines and there are conflicting opinions from subject matter experts,” said Peter Kirk, CEO of Sermo. “With our Sermo RealTime platform, questions around topics like diet and nutrition can be addressed in a quick and effective way to bring the physician community to the forefront of the discussion.”


To view the full study results, visit Sermo’s blog for the full infographic at Survey limitations include sampling bias, inability to deduce causality from opinion polls, confounding variables not measured and other factors.   

Sermo thanks Dr. Mohan Chilukuri, adjunct assistant professor of family medicine at University of North Carolina for his scientific insights.

About Sermo

Sermo is a global social platform for physicians that fosters impactful peer-to-peer collaboration & discussions through meaningful insights, data, and trends. It is the most trusted global platform for physicians with over 800,000 fully verified and licensed physicians across 150 countries. The platform enables doctors to anonymously talk real-world medicine, review treatment options via our proprietary Drug Ratings platform, collectively solve patient cases, and earn honorarium from surveys. Through Sermo’s unique community, pharmaceutical and healthcare partners can drive physician awareness and gain deep understanding of brand perceptions to benefit the medical community at large. For organizations or individuals looking to access Sermo’s RealTime platform, contact Sermo here.

Media Contacts:

Niki Franklin

Racepoint Global on behalf of Sermo

+1 617 624 3264