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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - The majority of American adults started eating better over the past 12 months, according to a new study commissioned by leading food and healthy lifestyle magazine "Cooking Light."
Conducted by GfK Roper Public Affairs & Media, Cooking Light Insight 2007 investigates healthy living in the United States, where nearly one-third of adults are obese and 64.5 percent are considered overweight. The findings reveal the methods and motives of those who have achieved a healthful balance vs. those who are still struggling to do so, and provide insight into how America has changed since the 2003 Cooking Light Insight study.
According to the study results, Americans are more knowledgeable about nutrition and healthful eating than in the past. Seventy percent of those surveyed said they believe they understand enough about nutrition and health to make healthful eating decisions -- and many have traded in bad habits for more healthful ones.
-- 70 percent of American adults drink lower fat milk instead of whole milk (52 percent in 2003);
-- 59 percent eat chicken with the skin off (41 percent in 2003);
-- 54 percent take vitamins (37 percent in 2003);
-- 52 percent use lower fat alternatives when cooking (44 percent in 2003); and
-- 51 percent read nutrition labels on food (43 percent in 2003).
-- In addition, Americans are much more likely than in 2003 to feel they can balance healthy eating without sacrificing their favorite foods (48 percent, up from 28 percent in 2003).
However, no more than four in 10 respondents said they feel they currently understand the potential health benefits or drawbacks of specific food ingredients very well. This is evidenced in meal planning and food choices. Americans are choosing foods based on fat content and fat type, though other factors have comparatively little influence, such as whether food is natural or organic, anti-oxidant rich, containing whole grains, or high in soy content. In addition, when it comes to making healthy choices, getting a balanced diet is of consequence for only two out of five Americans.
While the survey found that Americans are stumped on questions about exercise and physical fitness, they prove to have a better handle on food and diet information. For example, less than half (45 percent) of Americans know that in order to lose 1 pound, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you eat. Alternatively, eight in 10 (81 percent) understand that fatty acids, like those found in fish, are healthy for you, while seven in 10 (71 percent) know that fruit yogurt is not always a low-calorie food.
"This research offers us important insight into where Americans are going wrong in their quest for good health," said Cooking Light research director Mary Beth Burner. "People don't seem to understand that overall health is a two-part equation: exercise and proper diet."
This mail study was conducted for Cooking Light magazine by RoperASW among a national sample of 1072 adults 18 or older. The surveys were collected from Sept. 12 through Oct. 10, 2006.