Posts Tagged ‘Pennington Biomedical Research Center’

American Views on Food, Diets

May 30th, 2012


For several years the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFICF) has conducted a poll of American’s views on their health, diets, physical activity, and knowledge about foods. The results are always interesting. The new poll was conducted among 1,057 Americans, ages 18-80, in mid-April, 2012 and weighted to reflect the US population. Among its interesting findings:

  • Only 10% describe their health as ‘fair’ or ‘poor.’ This is a sharp drop from the pattern of the past 6 years in which just over 20% rated their health fair or poor. Conversely, those at “excellent” health shot up from the high-30% to 60%. Those rating their health as “good” dropped 10%. While the pattern of the survey has changed, the latest survey is more in line with CDC National Health Interview Survey data.

  • 23% rate their diet as “very” or “extremely” healthful. 54% rate their diet as “somewhat healthful.”

  • 87% of adults are trying to eat more fruits and vegetables, 78% cutting calories by drinking water, no calorie beverages. Women are more likely than men to be trying multiple strategies, as are those who are older and highly-educated.

  • Consumers who are obese, older and women are more likely to believe that changing nutritional guidance make it hard to know what to believe.

  • 52% believe it is easier to do one’s taxes than to figure out how to eat healthy.

  • The proportion of American’s trying to lose weight increases with Body Mass Index (BMI). 32% of those with low to normal BMI are trying to lose weight, 57% of those who are overweight and 76% of those who are obese. 22% are trying to maintain their weight while 3% are trying to gain weight.

  • After a dip last year, the percent trying to lose weight has returned to historical norms…about 55%.

  • Only 1 in 7 Americans correctly estimate the number of calories needed to maintain their weight.

  • Only 3 in 10 correctly believe that all calories are equal; most believe sugars, carbs and fat calories are more likely to cause weight gain.

  • Two-thirds of moderately active Americans meet government recommendations for weekly activity duration. On average, adults are physically active 4.8 days a week for a median of 45 minutes. Half of physically active Americans engage in strength training. For the full report see 2012_IFIC_Foundation_Food_Health_Survey_Media_Resources

It is interesting that most Americans can rate the healthfulness of their own diet but find it confusing to figure out what healthy eating means. In part, this must be due to the cacophony of nutritional news/advice in the US media world. There is also a disconnect, called the healthy eating hypothesis, which posits that, if one eats healthy, normal weight level can be achieved or maintained. Yet, most studies show that while eating healthier foods is an overall improvement, its effects on weight are minimal. The fact is that our weight is determined by caloric intake/expenditure. Cutting out calories from broccoli is the same as cutting out calories from M & Ms. If you don’t believe me, see the advice from the prestigious Pennington Biomedical Research Institute website, Finding 100 calories. PBRC: finding-100-calories