Confused About 'Healthy Foods'?

The Lempert Report
June 08, 2017

IFIC’s latest survey doesn’t have good news.

About eight in 10 survey respondents said they have found conflicting information about what foods to eat and what foods to avoid -- and more than half of them said the conflicting information has them second-guessing the choices they make, according to the International Food Information Council Foundation's annual Food and Health survey, and that’s not a great report card for food brands that keep saying how they are committed to offering clarity and healthier offerings. 

Liz Sanders, director of research and partnerships at the foundation and a co-author of the survey said that “that about half -- so around 56% -- say that this conflicting information causes them to doubt the choices that they're making." Not good odds for brands or retailers. 

Nearly 60% of respondents ranked being "high in healthy components or nutrients" as one of the top three factors for a "healthy" food.

Slightly more than half of respondents ranked "free from artificial ingredients, preservatives or additives" among the top three factors, and nearly 50% ranked "part of an important food group that I need to build a healthy eating style" among the top three factors. 

Many respondents said they turn to their friends and family for guidance on food choices, even though they see dietitians and health care professionals as the most trusted sources for guidance. Yet one more reason that retailers need to embrace and empower retail dietitians. Want to know more about the national RD programs? Check out

When considering the healthfulness of individual specific components and ingredients, most survey respondents placed vitamin D, fiber and whole grains at the top of the list and saturated fats at the bottom. 

All of us need to face the dilemma head on. Two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, 50% have either diabetes or prediabetes by age 65. The reality is that with all our industry speak we need to do a lot more to turn the health and nutrition food conversation into action – in our stores and in our shopper’s homes.