Just when I think Americans know everything about healthy eating and start to panic that I may have entered a profession that is becoming obsolete due to the internet, a little survey comes along and proves just how wrong I am. This is probably the one time I will accept defeat with open arms. You see I have lived in this academic bubble for the last 6 years, learning all about nutrition. So I am rather ignorant to what you people actually know. I just assume because I know it, so must you. Woe is the life of a cocky grad student. Sue me.
Recently though, a research has come out on what Americans actually think with respect to their diets and healthy eating and it is VERY interesting. In a nation-wide study, the Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health, researchers conducted a 25-minute web-based survey on Americans across the country. Below are the highlights of their findings. For the complete summary of their findings, click here.
- 52% of Americans think it’s easier to file their income tax on their own than improving their diet
- 90% of Americans consider themselves healthy, but 20% say their eating habits are not at all or not too healthful.
- 55% of us are currently trying to lose weight, up from 2011’s 43%
- Only 1 in 7 Americans estimated the correct calorie count they need to maintain their current weight
- 44% are trying to eliminate or limit their purchase of products with High Fructose Corn Syrup
- 60% of respondents are trying to consume more protein (funny because we all already eat too much anyway)
Where do I begin? While I cringe at the results of these findings, I can’t help but let my internal evil self giggle with delight over the potential my degree holds. Look, I get it. Nutrition is hard. I can act patronizing, but the truth is there is a boatload of information out there for you to read, learn and integrate into your lives regardless of whether it actually holds water. I could digress here and discuss the undervalued dietitian, but I will spare you.
We live in a culture where unhealthy food is cheap and available, portion sizes have doubled over the last 20 years, and we’re all engaging in less physical activity than ever before. There are a lot of pieces to the obesity puzzle including diet, lifestyle, and genetics. I think we can all agree on one thing; based on the results of this survey, there is a great deal of misunderstanding about nutrition and how to make smarter food choices.