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    U.S. Hispanics Equate Healthy Foods with Poor Taste

    Perceptions shaped by traditional flavors, importance of home cooking 

    U.S. Hispanics, particularly those foreign-born and Spanish-language dominant, claim to know more about nutrition than most people, but define nutrition in terms of quality as well as quantity, according to a new report released by The NPD Group.

    According to “It’s Mealtime with U.S. Hispanics,” a study on the group’s food and beverage consumption patterns, U.S. Hispanics’ pride in their cooking, emphasis on traditional flavors, and ensuring the food they feed their families is nutritious, are all factors that shape the perception that healthy foods aren’t as tasty or as nutritious. In fact, 46 percent of Spanish-language dominant Hispanics feel that almost everything that is good for them doesn’t taste very good. However, proportions change as Hispanics acculturate. For example, 31 percent of bilingual Hispanics and only 11 percent of English dominant Hispanics agree.

    Additionally, filling and eating everything on a plate conveys that a person “eats well” and a nutritious meal was served, which is a symbol of good health among Spanish-language dominant and foreign-born U.S. Hispanics.

    “Food and beverages play a central role in the preservation of Hispanic culture and reconnection for family; as a result, Hispanics view mealtime, nutrition, and healthy eating differently than non-Hispanics,” said Terry Soto, president and CEO of Burbank, Calif.-based About Marketing Solutions, Inc., who consulted with NPD on the development of its latest study. “Going for seconds is encouraged and welcomed, and conveys that a person ‘eats well’ and has a good appetite, which is a symbol of good health.”

    The NPD report, which includes information from "NET Hispanic," a year-long study on the eating behaviors of U.S. Hispanics by level of acculturation, finds that the effect of Hispanics’ attitudes about nutrition and healthy eating are reflected in weight and health issues, particularly among Spanish-dominant U.S. Hispanics.

    “With weight conditions and diet-related health issues prominent among U.S. Hispanics, there is an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to position products for how Hispanics actually eat and to align with their attitudes about healthy eating,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “Bilingual nutritional information on products and in-store will help, but it’s also important to keep in mind less-acculturated Hispanics’ attitudes that healthy isn’t tasty or in some cases as nutritious.”

    The NPD Group provides comprehensive consumer and retail information to more than 2,000 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels.

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