Americans Mean to Eat Well, But Fail to Do It – Study

On the heels of the USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans, The NPD Group, a leading market research firm, finds that the intended behaviors of many adult U.S. consumers are in line with the USDA’s recommendations, but the practice of those intentions lags behind.

Looks good enough to eat

That reminds me of the old saying we used to hear in Catholic grade school. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” the somber nuns would intone. Seems that’s the situation when it comes to healthy eating nowadays, too.

The widest gap between what adults, ages 18 and over, say they are going to do and what they actually do is exercising regularly. The research report, titled Healthy Eating Strategies by Generations, finds that 62% of adults say they intend to exercise regularly, but only 46% say they actually do.

Sadly the remaining 38% don’t even appear interested in exercising. No wonder we have an obesity problem in this country.

A second gap was observed in meal complexity and frequency. Eating smaller, more frequent meals is the intention of 44 percent of adults, but only 29 percent actually practice this.

A third gap occurred in caloric intake. Some 53% said they were going to limit their calorie intake, but just 38% said they actually are limiting the amount of calories they consume.

I favor knowing your caloric intake as it is such an effective, precise tool. However, there are folks who can maintain their weight, look and feel great who don’t have a clue about their calories. God bless them. Whatever works. The idea is to pay attention to what you are putting inside you. Everything you eat and drink becomes a part of you.

“A gap between actual behavior and future intentions exists on all dimensions of healthy eating behavior,” says Dori Hickey, director of product development at NPD and author of the report. “The key is to find ways to bridge the gap by making it easier for consumers to put into practice their intentions by understanding what will motivate them to eat and live more healthfully.”

As far as bridging the gap and influencing healthier eating behaviors, the report finds that weight loss and living longer are the prime motivators for healthy eating habits for the younger generations. Living longer and feeling good take on greater significance among older generations and losing weight is less important to these consumers. Underlying these motivations to eat healthier, are the key lifestyle drivers behind most consumers’ eating decisions – convenience, taste and affordability.

This NPD Group is interested in marketing foods to the various groups. We at the blog are simply hoping to help people get their weight under control, get an exercise program started and improve the quality of their lives as well as their actual lifespan.

It appears that we all have a long battle in store for us on this front.


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