Industry News | July 16, 2012

Americans Hungry for Healthy Foods

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Thanks to efforts like the First Lady's "Let's Move" program, health is on everyone's minds these days. To prove it, research firm Mintel recently released a study showing that just over two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans choose healthier foods to stay well.

"Consumers are more aware than ever of their own nutritional deficits and what poor eating habits can do in terms of their long-term health," says John Frank, category manager of CPG good and drink reports at Mintel. "As a result, today's consumers are seeking out healthy food with greater ugrency. However, skeptical or confused consumers aren't likely to pay a premium for healthier food, making it hard for manufacturers to justify investment in nutritional/ingredient upgrades."

Some 31 percent of consumers choose healthy foods to lose weight and 30 percent do so to maintain weight. Mintel's report shows that the fact that these percentages are fairly similar across all age groups illustrates how widespread the interest in healthy eating is.

This creates a growth opportunity for retailers, as they can create their own private label versions of healthier products to generate higher profits, fill a growing need of consumers, and also reinforce a retailer's indentity in the marketplace.

Based on Mintel's research, as age increases, so does the likelihood that adults are maintaining a mostly healthy diet. Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans 65 and older say they pay close attention to how they eat, compared to only 32 percent of 18-24-years olds. Nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of the 65-plus age group (the highest percentage of any demographic) say thaey do not exercise at all. This could be a principal reason for their healthier eating habits, as that is their main way of controlling their weight and health.

"Younger adults generally still feel invincible and have a more naturally active metabolism, making it easier to maintain their weight," Frank says.

Mintel research also reveals that women tend to think that they know what's good for them more so than men. Some 67 percent of men think they are a good judge of healthy food verses 76 percent of females. Perhaps that's because 64 percent of women say they read nutritional information on products, while only 56 percent of men do the same. It also appears that Americans are trying to create healthier children, as 67 percent of women and 57 percent of men claim to eat healthy food more often to set a good example for their kids.


I do not think that all Americans are choosing to eat healthy because of Michelle Obama's Let's Move initiative. In fact, I bet if you did a random survey, on what Let's Move represents, less than 10% of Americans would even know what it represents.Why in an election year, do people in the media (like yourself) always try to put a spin on something relatively small into something big for their candidate. Could you not of thought of a more creative way to open the story?What about the fact that Americans are getting more intelligent about what they are putting in their mouths, and now are demanding that manufacturers put better, healthier ingredients in their products. have to give Michelle Obama all the credit.....give me a break. She may be a very small piece of the getting the word out on the street...but you have to make it like she is the Commander-in-Eats.Good grief...another political hack.

I would posit that if you are buying foods with "labels", you are not buying healthy foods. Period. Foods that are healthy are whole, unprocessed, and fresh. They require no "labels". If you see a long list of ingredients, just pass on by. It's not healthy, it's just processed. and you can bet your sweet bippy that whatever natural nutrition the ingredients started with were extracted and replaced by engineered ingredients designed for shelf life, not human life. Stick to real food. You'll be better for it.

I read the article & felt inspired & hopeful. I'm passionate about living a healthy lifestyle & helping others to do the same. I have noticed friends, family & acquaintances paying more attention to what they put in their bodies in the past year or so. Sure, we all still indulge, but we're more mindful, & that's how change begins.Then I got to the comments & was sickened to see the political reaction. As I read the article, they were just mentioning "Let's Move" as but one example of programs that are bringing attention to the need for healthier diets. If that's a political agenda, then I'm sorry but you're reading with your cynical glasses on. Obesity is a national crisis. We spend nearly 20% of our GNP on healthcare, & 1/4 of that is directly related to obesity. 32% of US adults are overweight, & another 35% are obese. Healthcare costs are one of the top problems US companies are struggling to solve, & obesity is the top driver of those costs.Those of us involved in the restaurant industry can play a leadership role in solving this problem. As I read this thread, it's the folks who pulled that one sentence out to complain about who are applying their own political bias, not the authors.OK I'm getting off my soapbox now to take an exercise break & cool off.

Take it easy, the people that write for QSR aren't exactly in line to win a Pulitzer any time soon. But hey, at least they try, right? The fact is, health and wellness is a recession-proof industry because people in the US always overconsume, so then they feel guilty and start new diet/ exercise programs. Why else would all these $19/mo health clubs succeed if not for our own desire to repeat cycles like this one?

lthough Michelle Obama may have had some impact on peoples food choices, we still have a long way to go. Part of the reason is because of all the conflicting advice concerning what constitutes a healthy diet. Low carb, low fat, high protein, high fatwhat should we be eating? Fortunately science is now giving us some clues.It is now clear that sugar and HFCS are chronic toxins akin to cigarette smoking. Its the fructose component of these sugars that leads to insulin resistance and type II diabetes. When you have insulin resistance from consuming too much fructose and then throw in high glycemic carbohydrates, especially from grains, your brain is subjected to toxic magnified glucose spikes. Over time these glucose spikes can interfere with normal brain function and trigger a condition called sugar-brain. People with sugar-brain start to crave sweet and starchy foods. Because the brain helps to regulate body fat, people with sugar-brain start to store too much total body fat even when they dont overeat.Over time sugar-brain can transition to a serious medical illness called Carbohydrate Associated Reversible brain syndrome or CARB syndrome. People with CARB syndrome can develop up to 22 brain dysfunction symptoms that interfere with their ability to function and they keep piling on the extra fat.Thus instead of focusing on how much you eat, you should pay careful attention to what you eat, especially if you want to have a healthy brain. Learn more at

I find it really interesting that 67% of Americans are choosing healthier foods while 2/3 of the population is overweight or obese according to FRAC ( Did the study take into account what people were actually eating or was it what they thought they were eating? When I think about people I know who are 'choosing healthier foods', many don't realize what is healthy and what isn't... even though they think they do.

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