WASHINGTON — More than half of consumers (52%) say it’s easier to do their taxes than to know what they should and shouldn’t eat to be healthier, with obese Americans (body mass index 30+), older consumers (65-80) and women most likely to agree that changing information makes it hard to know what to believe. That’s per the International Food and Information Council Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey.
“They are looking for specific items on the label to improve health, especially whole grains, and consumers often look to additional resources to verify food and health information, but changing guidance is confusing,” said Marianne Smith Edge, senior vice president, nutrition and food safety for IFIC, during a webinar presentation last week.
Americans may be perplexed, but most are taking simple steps to improve at least one aspect of their eating habits. Eighty-seven percent are making an effort to eat more fruits and vegetables, 78% cut calories by drinking water and 76% are avoiding foods higher in solid fats, sugars and salt.
While taste (87%) and cost (73%) trump health (61%) when making decisions about food and beverages, consumers are trying to eat more whole grains, fiber and protein. The survey also found differences based on gender and age.
“Men feel it is harder to eat a healthful diet than to find time to exercise, while women feel just the opposite,” said Smith Edge. “The percentage of older respondents who say their diet is very or extremely healthful is about twice the rate of younger people. These are important distinctions for health professionals and others who are trying to help individuals and families improve their diet and health.”