Healthy Understanding, Unhealthy Behavior

December 20, 2010

A new report from the NPD Group on the principles of healthy eating.

A new report from the NPD Group, a leading market research company, found that U.S. adults, across all generations, understand the principles of healthy eating, but the understanding doesn’t necessarily translate into healthy eating behavior.

The report found that the older generations eat more healthfully than the younger generations, but still four out of five (nearly 170 million) of us need to improve the quality of our diets. The report also identified the gaps between actual consumption and intentions, finding that younger generations, Generation X, Y, and younger Boomers, have the least healthful diets. Older consumers, ages 54 and up, often have the greatest need to eat healthy due to underlying medical conditions, which actually drive them to do so.

The generations do share and understanding of what constitutes healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle- the top characteristics sited were: regular exercise, well balanced meals, moderation when eating, limit/avoiding foods with cholesterol or trans fats, and making sure to be adequately hydrated. 

So if nutrition or healthfulness of foods is most important in deciding what to eat and drink, why are we still failing to make the grade? NPD also found that overall, the largest deficiencies in our diets are fruits and vegetables intake as well as an over consumption of total fats.

So how can we translate what we know into action? SupermarketGuru suggests, planning your weekly meals at the beginning of the week and make a shopping list that reflects local sales on fruits and vegetables. Start your trip in the center of the store - where all the unemotional boxes, jars and cans are - that way you will not be enticed by all those fresh aromas and colors in the produce department (which is why the store puts those up front anyway!). Buy those fruits and vegetables that are in season - not only will they be packed with more nutrients and flavor, but will cost less as well.

Plan your menus around just 4 to 5 ounces of meat, chicken or fish (about the size of a deck of cards) - then fill the plate with two to three times that amount of colorful fruits, vegetables and grains.