Four therapeutic diets: adherence and acceptability

Can J Diet Pract Res. 2010 Winter;71(4):199-204. doi: 10.3148/71.4.2010.199.


Many health conditions are treated, at least in part, by therapeutic diets. Although the success of any intervention depends on its acceptability to the patient, the acceptability of therapeutic diets and factors that influence it have been largely neglected in nutrition research. A working definition of acceptability is proposed and an examination and summary are provided of available data on the acceptability of common diet regimens used for medical conditions. The goal is to suggest ways to improve the success of therapeutic diets. The proposed working definition of "acceptability" refers to the user's judgment of the advantages and disadvantages of a therapeutic diet-in relation to palatability, costs, and effects on eating behaviour and health-that influence the likelihood of adherence. Very low-calorie, reduced-fat omnivorous, vegetarian and vegan, and low-carbohydrate diets all achieve acceptability among the majority of users in studies of up to one year, in terms of attrition and adherence rates and results of questionnaires assessing eating behaviours. Longer studies are fewer, but they suggest that vegetarian, vegan, and reduced-fat diets are acceptable, as indicated by sustained changes in nutrient intake. Few studies of this length have been published for very low-calorie or low-carbohydrate diets. Long-term studies of adherence and acceptability of these and other therapeutic diets are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Health
  • Caloric Restriction / psychology*
  • Diet, Carbohydrate-Restricted / psychology*
  • Diet, Reducing / psychology*
  • Diet, Vegetarian / psychology*
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Patient Compliance / psychology*
  • Patient Satisfaction*