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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. News

>> Original Article

@ 3:39pm ET on May 31, 2007
If the 'experts' expect normal people to understand and follow guidelines, they need to stop talking in 'science'... if they would state clearly .. "eat more salmon and avocados, the fats in these foods are healthful, don't eat fried foods or too much meat, the fats in these foods are harmful" but they try to couch their studies in scientific terms and sound 'smarter' and not appear to talk down to people, as a consequence they muddy the water and confuse people. And how can you expect people to know how many calories to consume to maintain a healthy weight when even the 'experts' can't give us a straight answer since there are so many variables that affect that figure!

@ 8:46am ET on June 1, 2007
I think these studies are kind of funny. If you ask smokers how many think they should quit, most of them will say the want to quit. If you ask them how they plan to quit, most of them will say one method or another. If you ask them when they plan to quit they will tell you that they aren't making specific plans right now. Eating is the same thing! We all know we should eat right and exercise and we plan to someday, but.....

@ 9:14am ET on June 1, 2007
I see this as another example of Americans needing information "dumbed down" so they can understand it - that's embarrassing, folks. Experts are always finding new answers to questions in any field and changing information is no excuse for Americans to not have a basic understanding of their nutritional needs. We should expect clear guidelines, sure, but to expect hand-holding from experts is simply not taking responsibilty for our own bodies and health. At the same time, the fact that so many Americans have an interest in health is good and hopefully will lead to more positive changes in the future.

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