Americans have a huge disconnect between their intentions and habits when it comes to diet and exercise, according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
While 90 percent of Americans surveyed in IFIC’s second annual Food & Health Survey said that breakfast is important for a healthy diet, only 49 percent reported eating breakfast every day.
In an effort to better understand people’s beliefs and behaviors about healthy eating, IFIC surveyed 1,000 American adults. “Consumers are interested in health, they want to have a healthy lifestyle, but they’re just having a tremendous difficulty achieving it,” concluded Susan Borra, the president of the Washington DC-based IFIC Foundation.
One of the most alarming discoveries was Americans’ lack of knowledge in differentiating between good and bad fats. Even with the stress on consuming healthy polyunsaturated fats from fish and whole grains, and monounsaturated fats from nuts, vegetable oils, and fish, 42 percent of those surveyed claimed they were trying to cut down on polyunsaturated fats, and 38 percent were trying to reduce their intake of monounsaturated fats.
And, while 80 percent were aware that there are functional foods that can benefit the heart, only 42 percent actually ate these foods.
In addition, only 11 percent of those surveyed know the number of calories they should consume each day in order to maintain a healthy weight
Even with 84 percent reporting they were physically active at least once a week for health benefits, only 44 percent said they balance healthy diet and physical activity for weight management. “That concept of calories in, calories out isn’t quite making the consumer radar screen,” Borra said.
However, there was an improvement from last year’s 57 percent to 70 percent of people surveyed trying to eat less saturated fat, found in meats, dairy foods, and coconut and palm oils.
Borra attributes these “disconnects” to people’s “hectic, crazy lifestyles” and the mass amounts of information and reports that are put out.
She recommends focusing on reliable sources of diet and health information, along with making incremental changes to lifestyle habits instead of making many big changes all at once.
“If you just make a couple of small steps a day, you’re doing a lot to achieving a healthy lifestyle in the long run,” said Borra.
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