Views Toward Nutrition and Healthful Eating Among Millennials

Millennials and Food

This report presents the results of six focus groups with Millennials about their nutrition knowledge and behavior. The main objective was to gain an understanding of Millennials’ current eating habits as well as their views toward nutrition and healthful eating in order to help them balance their food and drink consumption and activity. What influences Millennials' decisions about what to eat? What are the barriers to more healthful eating patterns? From what sources do they receive information about nutrition and balancing caloric intake with physical activity? Whom do Millennials trust for nutrition information?

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Excerpt: Key Findings on Current Eating Habits

Millennials' Current Eating Habits

Most Millennials acknowledge the importance of eating healthfully, but all admit they do not always eat as healthfully as they would like.  While most picture a healthful meal as consisting of lean meats and a starch along with fruits, vegetables, or a salad, many Millennials say their actual meals are more likely to consist of red meats or fried foods, with few or no vegetables or produce.  Accordingly, the average grade they give the healthfulness of their eating is a C+. 

Challenges to Eating More Healthfully

  • Few admit that a lack of knowledge is a barrier to eating healthfully, although there do appear to be gaps in what Millennials know about nutrition, including what an appropriate serving size is, and how many calories per day is appropriate for them. 
  • Besides their knowledge limitations, there are two key barriers to eating healthfully:
    • Lack of time, and a need to eat things “on the go."  Millennials are looking for foods that are quick for them to obtain and that require minimal or no time to prepare.  Even food packaging that facilitates eating on the run is helpful to them.  They have difficulty fitting healthful cooking into their lifestyle.
    • Lack of money.  There is a strong perception among young consumers that it is more expensive to eat healthfully.  Even though they are likely spending more than they need to on premade and convenience foods, as well as dining out, they see bargain packaged goods and fast foods as ways to get full inexpensively.
  • Millennials do a lot of their eating with friends, so it is not surprising that social dynamics present a challenge to more healthful eating as well.  Millennials describe restaurant menus as having fewer healthful options, and they also say they are tempted to eat what their friends are eating when they are together.
  • Difficulty exerting will power to exercise good choices and keep portion sizes moderate is another challenge.