The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are released every five years, were issued last week and one of the new guidelines’ strongest recommendation is something that consumers have already caught on to: limiting sugar intake, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Overall, U.S. consumers have indicated that sugar is the No. 1 item they try to avoid in their diet and are eating less sugary foods and beverages, according to NPD’s ongoing food consumption research.
The new dietary guidelines recommend that only 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugars. Although this may sound like a lofty goal, consumers have cut down on foods and beverages with high sugar content, like carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks and juice, ice cream and frozen treats, and other sweet snacks. Consumption of sugar-free, unsweetened, or reduced sugar products, which is highest among young children and adults 55 and older, follows the trend in concern about sugar overall. Calories were once the top item consumers looked for on nutrition facts labels, but now it is sugar.
Cholesterol, the outcast of past dietary guidelines, is no longer a dietary concern according to the new guidelines. NPD’s food consumption research shows that consumers are in line with this since their concern for cholesterol content has continued to decline since 2006. Eggs, which bore the brunt of the anti-cholesterol push, are back in vogue and consumption is up as consumers look for more sources of protein.
Eating more fruits and vegetables is a perennial federal dietary standard and is still front-and-center in the new guidelines. There is good and bad news in regards to this standard. The good news is that consumers are eating more fruits and fruit is among the top growing better-for-you snacks. The bad news is that vegetables are still fighting to find their way into Americans’ hearts and stomachs.
“Consumer alignment with the new guidelines speaks volumes to our collective shift toward eating more healthfully,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “We have nutritional information at our fingertips. Some seek it consciously and others hear it subliminally. If there is a weight or health problem, it’s typically not a result of nutritional ignorance.”