Healthful choices challenge consumers

06/25/2013 03:19:00 PM
Pamela Riemenschneider

fmi prevention shopping for health studyWhile some barriers to healthful eating have lifted over the past few years, the majority of shoppers in the latest Shopping for Health 2013 study from the Food Marketing Institute and Prevention still say it costs too much to eat healthy and it’s too hard to change their eating habits.

The study, conducted as an online survey between Dec. 12 and Dec. 21, surveyed 1,467 primary shoppers in the U.S. and was published by Rodale Inc.

Consumers felt less confused about which foods are healthful and which aren’t, down 16 points since 2007, but 62% said it “costs too much to eat healthy foods.”

The food retail industry has made significant efforts over the past several years to educate consumers on healthy choices, said Cathy Polley, vice president of health and wellness and executive director of the FMI Foundation, in a news release.

“Consumers are increasingly aware of the health-conscious choices offered to them in the grocery aisles,” Polley said. “The food retail industry also provides multiple channels of nutrition education, witnessed in the emergence of in-store dietitians and targeted programs and healthy meals.”

Shoppers indicated they need more information than just nutrition, said Peter Smith, manager of consumer insights for Rodale, in a news release.

“In addition to education about the benefits of eating healthy, shoppers would benefit from opportunities to sample great-tasting healthy foods to change their negative taste perceptions,” he said.

The report also covered perceptions and efforts consumers put in to healthy eating. While adults know their own weight, parents often do not see the same for their children. Only 10% of survey respondents with children ages 6-18 said they believed their children to be overweight, compared to 33% from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Shoppers tended to avoid buying foods viewed as unhealthy, rather than seeking healthful items, according the report. Consumers’ efforts to eat healthfully included:

  • Switching to healthier snacks – 56%
  • Avoiding junk food – 62%
  • Making a conscious effort not to consume too many calories at once – 52%
  • Preparing healthy recipes at home – 59%

The full report is available from the Food Marketing Institute website, www.fmi.org.



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