Have we reached 'peak gluten'? Charting the rise and fall of fad diets


Svati Kirsten Narula at Quartz has used the New York Times' online tool Chronicle, which measures how frequently any given word or phrase has appeared in the paper since 1850, to track diet fads.

It’s possible to pinpoint exactly when the New York Times first used the phrase “gluten free” (1978) and to see that the number of articles mentioning that phrase in 2014 was triple the number in 2010.

Narula notes how fickle our nutritional fears can be:

The chart above represents a succession of diet trends from 1990 to today: first fat was the enemy, then carbohydrates were, and now gluten is the most controversial substance in America’s ongoing nutrition hysterics.

Earlier, the New York Times economics reporter Neil Irwin examined the rise and fall of the popularity of certain specific foods - 1996 was the year with the most mentions of "fried calamari", a phrase that first appeared in the paper in 1975.

  1. http://chronicle.nytlabs.com/
  2. http://qz.com/248450/150-years-of-americas-obsession-with-dieting-fads-charted/#/h/95194,1/
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/12/upshot/special-sauce-for-measuring-food-trends-the-fried-calamari-index.html?_ga=1.212053140.1843549101.1407991900
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