New survey reveals uncomfortable truth
With the theme “What’s Your Health Worth?”, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 10th anniversary Food and Health Survey is offering a wealth of new insights into Americans’ health and nutrition, including perceptions of their own health, an economic divide on food-purchasing decisions, where health and nutrition rank among competing priorities, and ongoing confusion over dietary and health-related choices.
Self-Perception vs. Reality
According to the survey, 57% of Americans rate their own health as very good or excellent, yet 55% of that group is either overweight or obese. The vast majority of consumers (84%) say they are either trying to maintain or lose weight. Consumers also report efforts to choose more healthful options in their lives, with 82% trying to eat more fruits and vegetables and 76% cutting calories by drinking water, or low- and no-calorie beverages.
Higher-income consumers are more likely to buy foods based on their production or source (locally sourced, no added hormones or steroids, organic) and more likely to report avoiding many specific food components and ingredients.
Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, IFIC Foundation’s senior vice president of nutrition and food safety, said:
While 37% of Americans cite lack of willpower as the biggest barrier to losing or maintaining their weight, 31% cite lack of time.
If people suddenly were given an extra four hours a week, exercise is the top activity (36%) Americans say they would spend it on, followed by time with friends and family (31%), relaxing or sleeping (29%), doing household chores or tasks (20%), reading (20%), or practicing a hobby (20%).
Four out of 10 (40%) say they spend more time tracking the healthfulness of their diet than they do following their favorite sport or sports team (31%), yet there is a significant gender divide: Men chose sports over their diet 46% to 27%, while women chose their diet over sports 51% to 17%.
Perhaps more than ever in the survey’s history, consumer confusion is emerging as a key concern. More than three-quarters (78%) say they would rather hear information about what to eat versus what not to eat.