SEATTLE (AP) -- Yes, I would like fries with that.
That's what many Americans are saying in the face of conflicting research advice on just what makes for a healthy diet, researchers found.
"The more negative and confused people feel about dietary recommendations, the more likely they are to eat a fat-laden diet that skimps on fruits and vegetables," said Ruth Patterson, lead author of the study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
The study was published Monday in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. It follows years of often confusing news reports about findings on some foods.
For example, scientists long have touted margarine as a healthier alternative to butter, but a study recently found that stick margarine can increase the risk of heart disease. Other research has questioned health claims for oats, eggs and wine.
Patterson and her colleagues, funded by the National Cancer Institute, surveyed 1,751 Washington adults on their eating habits and attitudes toward food and nutrition guidelines.
-- More than 40 percent said they were tired of hearing about what foods they should or shouldn't eat.
-- About 40 percent agreed that dietary guidelines should be taken with a "grain of salt."
-- Some 25 percent said a low-fat diet takes the pleasure out of eating.
-- 70 percent said the government shouldn't tell people what to eat.
The biggest nutrition skeptics were men age 18-35 and people over 60 years old, according to the study.
Patterson said restaurant dining helps discourage healthy eating habits, since most American restaurants emphasize taste over nutrition.
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