Survey Highlights Six Diet Disconnects

WASHINGTON, DC -- More than half of Americans say they are trying to lose weight, and a majority of them say they are trying to improve the healthfulness of their diet and increase their level of physical activity. However, nine out of 10 Americans do not know how many calories they should consume in a day.

The conflicting findings on calories represent just one of six consumer “diet disconnects” found in the second annual Food & Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. The survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted over three weeks in February and March of 2007.

“This survey is an important snapshot highlighting the gap between Americans’ desire to have a more healthful diet and the reality of converting this desire into day-to-day behavior,” says Susan Borra, IFIC Foundation president and registered dietitian.

Other findings include:

  • A majority of Americans (84 percent) reported being physically active, for health benefits, at least once a week, but nearly half (44 percent) of Americans who report being physically active say they do not “balance diet and physical activity” to manage their weight.
  • Ninety percent of Americans agree that breakfast is an important meal to achieve a healthful diet, however less than half of Americans (49 percent) report eating breakfast every day.
  • Consumers’ concern about the types and amounts of fats they include in their diet is up from a year ago (72 percent vs. 66 percent), and they are specifically trying to consume less trans fat, although consumers are unclear about which fats are healthful. For example, Americans report trying to consume less polyunsaturated fats, one of the fats recommended for health benefits.
  • More than 70 percent of consumers say they are trying to consume more carbohydrates such as fiber and whole grains, but more than 50 percent remain concerned with the amount of carbohydrates they consume.
  • Most consumers agree that consuming specific foods and beverages can provide health benefits beyond basic nutrition. These benefits include improving heart health (80 percent), improving digestive health (76 percent) and improving physical energy or stamina (76 percent). However, more than 50 percent of Americans say they currently do not consume foods or beverages that deliver these benefits.
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