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By: Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD  & Alison Vaux-Bjerke  Date: 7/7/10

Today the International Food Information Council Foundation released its 2010 Food & Health Survey, which examines what Americans are doing regarding eating and exercise, health habits, and food safety practices.  The results show that Americans are highly concerned about their weight.  In fact, weight loss drives diet and physical activity changes more than any other factor. 

The 2010 Food & Health Survey highlights the shift of Americans’ thinking toward awareness of the link between body weight and health.  With the emphasis on healthy eating and physical activity by First Lady Michelle Obama, the messages about the importance of a healthful and active lifestyle that food and nutrition professionals have been preaching for years are gaining momentum in the mainstream.  And the movement will only continue to gain momentum with the release of the government’s 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans expected later this year.

Americans’ Top Efforts regarding Weight Loss and Maintenance
Most Americans (70 percent) say they are concerned about their weight status, and the vast majority (77 percent) say they are trying to lose or maintain their weight.  When asked what actions they are taking:
• 69 percent of respondents indicate they are changing the amount of food they eat;
• 63 percent report changing the type of foods they eat; and
• 60 percent are engaging in physical activity.
• Only 19 percent report keeping track of calories, which can be a tool for those trying to manage weight.

Confusion on All Sides of the Calorie Equation
While Americans express concern about their weight and report taking some action, the concept of calories consumed and burned (AKA energy balance) still leaves most scratching their heads. 
• Only 12 percent of respondents accurately estimate their recommended daily calorie intake for weight maintenance.
• 43 percent don’t know how many calories they burn in a day.
• 58 percent of people don’t make an effort to balance the amount of calories they eat with the amount they burn.
• Only 19 percent of those watching their weight keep track of calories.

Other Key Findings
• 85 percent of Americans have heard of the MyPyramid, but only 29 percent have used it.
• Americans are focused on trying to consume more fiber (72 percent) and whole grains (73 percent); they are less focused on dietary fat than in previous years.
• 53 percent of Americans are concerned about the amount of sodium in their diet and are more likely to look at the Nutrition Facts Panel for sodium than in previous years.
• Only 89 percent of respondents report washing their hands regularly with soap and water regularly when handling food.
• Taste (86 percent) has the largest impact on consumers’ food and beverage purchasing decisions followed by price (73 percent), healthfulness (58 percent), and convenience (55 percent).
• 73 percent are satisfied with the healthfulness of products offered at their supermarket.

The results of this year’s Food & Health Survey draw attention to the positive gains we have made toward highlighting health and nutrition, but also show where we should focus in the future to ensure Americans have the tools to improve their health through nutrition and food safety practices. The International Food Information Council Foundation looks forward to engaging with you on these topics in the coming months.  We would love to hear your thoughts.

To view an executive summary and access the full findings, please visit the Food & Health page on



4 comment(s) so far...

Re: 2010 Food & Health Survey Reveals Diet and Exercise are “Weighty” Issues for Many Consumers

Why do the guidelines recommend so much grain in the American diet? Carbs have the highest calorie content and many suggest eating a lot to "bulk" up. Do you have any solid reason why I would want to eat bread at breakfast, lunch and dinner? Americans don't follow the pyramid diet because that is the exact shape you become when you follow it.

By melissa pellegrino on   Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Re: 2010 Food & Health Survey Reveals Diet and Exercise are “Weighty” Issues for Many Consumers

Melissa, you ask an interesting question. To be honest, carbohydrates are just one of many recommendations within the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Carbohydrates are more than just a vehicle for calories, they also provide essential vitamins and nutrients. Every eating occasion, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks, is a an opportunity to improve your health by making smart dietary choices. Choose foods that taste good, but that also provide you with important nutrients, including carbohydrates, fats, and protein as well as essential vitamins and minerals (e.g., calcium, potassium, vitamin A, C, and E). The key is to make sure that over the course of a week, you are eating a variety of foods, like low fat milk and yogurt, fruits and vegetables, lean meats (e.g., chicken, porkloin, sirloin), whole grain breads and cereals, and high fiber foods to achieve an overall healthful diet. For more information about carbohydrates see our Backgrounder on Carbohydrates and Sugars:

--Liz Rahavi, RD
Associate Director, Health & Wellness
International Food Information Council Foundation

By Liz Rahavi, RD on   Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Re: 2010 Food & Health Survey Reveals Diet and Exercise are “Weighty” Issues for Many Consumers

It will be interesting to see whether First Lady Michelle Obama will really have any impact on how American's approach healthy eating. I'm curious also to see how American responses to some of the questions listed above compare to consumers in Europe and elsewhere. I think food is one of those topics where cultural differences still really stand out.

Great blog, by the way. Well done.

By World Food Inc. on   Friday, March 25, 2011

Re: 2010 Food & Health Survey Reveals Diet and Exercise are “Weighty” Issues for Many Consumers

In response to Melissa's post - I agree that a lot of grains in your diet may not be ideal. However, carbohydrates come in many forms. The complex carbohydrates found in vegetables will add nutrients, vitamins and minerals to your diet, give you natural energy, replenish your supply of digestive enzymes, and not leave you heavy or put on weight.

By Mary Ann MacKay on   Wednesday, October 19, 2011

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