May 23, 2010
Americans Not Getting Enough Fiber
Fiber is noticeably absent from the typical American diet, according to recent research by market researcher Mintel. One in three respondents to a recent survey consider their diet to be healthy, but only one in five report actively looking for and buying products with added health claims. Based on these results, only a minority of adults is likely to be interested in fiber-enhanced products with digestive claims.
While 30 percent of consumers say they make it a point to eat naturally fiber-rich foods, studies show most Americans are failing to meet their recommended daily fiber intake. This may be explained by the 27 percent of respondents who think food with added fiber usually has an unpleasant taste
“Many people have negative perceptions about the taste of fiber,” said Molly Heyl-Rushmer, senior health and wellness analyst at Chicago-based Mintel. “The taste deters them from eating a fiber-added product that has numerous health benefits.”
Twenty-five percent of respondents think fiber is only necessary for those who suffer from irregularity or other digestive problems, with men being more likely than women to hold this belief. Thirty percent of men (compared with 23 percent of women) also believe supplements are just as effective as fiber-enriched foods.
Despite the fact that research shows that a lack of fiber is linked to various cancers, heart disease and diabetes, 22 percent of consumers don’t know enough about fiber to know if it’s important to their health. Further, 37 percent believe they can get enough fiber from regular foods, so supplements and food with added fiber are unnecessary.
“Consumers are more likely to report limiting sugar, fat, sodium and calorie intake than they are to eat naturally fiber-rich foods,” said Heyl-Rushmer, adding, “Adults don’t fully understand the link between fiber and health.
“The way men view fiber is a considerable obstacle for marketers to overcome,” Heyl-Rushmer said, noting that she believes “macho” advertising spokesmen who gently poke fun at these false beliefs could be a successful marketing tool. She further advises marketers to implement money-back guarantees and educational initiatives to dispel negative perceptions, as well as informing consumers about fiber’s importance in a healthy diet.
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