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According to findings from The NPD Group, eight out of 10 U.S. adults describe themselves as “extremely healthy” or “very healthy,” yet only one in five have what is considered a “most healthy” diet, with 65 percent maintaining a body mass index (BMI) considered overweight or obese.
In spite of their skewed self-assessments, almost half of U.S. adults (104 million) recognize the need to change their diet to improve their overall health.
U.S. consumers define healthy eating in terms of adding or omitting something from their diets, according to NPD’s "The Market for Functional Foods" report. Fifty-five percent of the 1,921 adults surveyed said that eating healthy involves adding to and taking out of their diet equally. Of the remaining adults surveyed, 26 percent said that “adding something to the diet” is healthy eating, and 19 percent believe it to be “taking something out.”
Dieting, which traditionally involves omitting something from one’s diet, is not the health and weight management solution it once was, NPD reports. In 2011, 21 percent of adults claimed to be on a diet, down from 24 percent in 2004.
As for adding something to a diet, consumers turn to easier solutions like taking vitamins or adding functional foods and beverages - products that offer additional, pro-active health benefits beyond basic nutrition - as well as foods fortified with whole grains or probiotics. One-third of adults, almost 80 million, indicate strong interest in functional foods and beverages, and one in four are already consuming at least one functional food or beverage per day.
“A huge opportunity exists to increase functional product usage among adults and teens who have already tried functional products at some point but are not using them on a daily basis,” said Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for the Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD. “If the 118 million less frequent adult users could be encouraged to include just one more functional food or beverage into their diet each week, this would result in an increase of over 6 billion each year.”
The NPD Group provides comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries.