Trends and the Challenge to “Doing”

January 6, 2012

Trends and the Challenge to “Doing”

The New Year has arrived, and we are saturated with articles on goals and resolutions.  According to the radio announcers that I hear while driving to work, polls indicate that reducing weight and exercising are the top two goals and resolutions. Then they quickly banter among themselves that by the beginning of February, most people will have stopped achieving these goals.  I find this yearly conversation to be negative and self-defeating.  Instead of adding to this discussion, I want to provide a different prospective.

First I need to announce that my professional association, the American Dietetic Association has changed its name.  As of January 1st, over 70,000 registered dietitians and other nutrition professionals belong to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Since 1991, this organization has conducted a nationwide consumer trends survey.  In May 2011, 754 adults age 18 and older were surveyed by telephone via random digit dialing by Mintel International Group Limited.  Of the adults surveyed, the age range of 35 to 54 years comprised the largest percent (42%).  Some interesting trends:

  • Although 2/3 of American adults are either overweight or obese, almost half of all respondents said they are already doing all they can to achieve balanced nutrition and healthy food choices.  This percentage (49%) has remained constant at just under half since 2002.  Does this indicate that a significant proportion of people do not think they need to do more? Are they in denial?
  • The Academy has summarized the answers to several questions to divide consumers into three groups:

1) The “I am already doing it” group tends to be:

  • Female
  • More likely to obtain nutrition information from magazines
  • Most likely to say nutrition is “very important” to them personally
  • Most likely to live in a household where a person is on a diet for medical reasons

2) The “I know I should” group tends to:

  •  be between the ages of 35 to 54
  • Want more practical tips to eat better
  • Be more likely to use organic foods and products
  • Be more likely to use the internet for nutrition information

3) The “don’t both me” group tends to be:

  • Male
  • Most likely to have less than a college education
  • Least likely to be married or living with a partner
  • The Academy asked about how much consumers had heard about health-related effects of foods and nutrients.  Americans have heard the most about: fat, trans fat, sodium, sugar, carbohydrates, and omega-3 fatty acids.  All very popular items in the news. Knowledge appears to adequate.
  • Where do most Americans receive their nutrition information?  According to the survey, it is television followed by magazines and the internet.  The internet increased the most since the 2008 survey, from 24% to 40% in 2011.  (This is a concern as there is less editorial oversight on websites.)  At the same time, they indicated that Registered Dietitians were the most credible source on nutrition (Yea!) followed by doctors.

If you have read this far, congratulations!  Like me, you are interested in trends.  To view the complete report, check the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website.

As a health professional, I find this information very interesting.  To me it indicates that consumers have knowledge, but knowing does not mean doing.  At this point, I could write a list of suggestions, but knowledge does not mean doing!  So instead, I challenge you to look at the trends above especially the three groups.  Evaluate your personal group.  Then I challenge you to “doing”.

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