Is it Time to Rethink Nutrition Communications? Five-Year Retrospective on Americans' Attitudes Toward Food, Nutrition, and Health

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Contact Matt Raymond or Jania Matthews at 202-296-6540 or

(Washington, D.C.) — A five-year retrospective focusing on key findings from the annual International Food Information Council Foundation’s (IFIC) Food & Health Survey, “Is it Time to Rethink Nutrition Communications? A 5-Year Retrospective of Americans’ Attitudes Toward Food, Nutrition, and Health,” has been published online ahead-of- print on the, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (JAND) website.

The IFIC Foundation’s annual Food & Health Survey is a comprehensive national quantitative study designed to gain insights from Americans on important nutrition and health-related topics. Since the release of the first Survey in 2006, the IFIC Foundation recognized the importance of better understanding consumer perceptions relating to food, nutrition, and health, and to track those perceptions over time.

 “Longitudinal studies are invaluable for tracking consumer attitudes within a hyperactive environment of nutrition education and dietary guidance. The annual surveys comprising this longitudinal study provide a unique window to study over time how consumers focus amidst all the nutrition noise,” said Nancy Childs, PhD, Professor of Food Marketing and Peck Fellow at Saint Joseph's University and co-author of the article. “Of many important findings in this study, significant ones for me are the need to communicate with consumers in our new social media shared with family and friends, recognizing we gravitate toward messages that reinforce our beliefs about food and health.”    

The article, which analyzes data from the 2006 to 2010 iterations of the Survey, draws a compelling conclusion about connecting and communicating with consumers when it comes to their diet and health. While Survey results indicate that some nutrition and health messages are being heard and confirm Americans' desire to engage in healthful behaviors, there is yet work to be done to help consumers establish long-term healthful habits.

“Having five years of consumer research offers invaluable insights on how the communication of dietary guidance impacts consumers,” said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President, Nutrition & Food Safety at the IFIC Foundation and co-author of the article. “And, we have not stopped at five years. The IFIC Foundation remains committed to continuing to field this Survey to gain and share insights on consumers’ knowledge and behaviors. Further, this helps focus consumer communication efforts on areas where they are needed most.”

Topics Discussed in the IFIC Foundation’s Food & Health Survey 5-Year Retrospective include:

  • Perceptions of Overall Health, Weight Status, and Diet Status;
  • Consumers’ Calorie Conundrum;
  • Insights and Understanding of Nutrients; and
  • Influences and Information Sources.

The article is co-authored by: Betsy A. Hornick, MS, RD, LDN, Food, Nutrition & Health Communications; Nancy M. Childs, PhD., Professor of Food Marketing and Peck Fellow, Saint Joseph's University; Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President, Nutrition & Food Safety, International Food Information Council Foundation; Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, MS, RD, formerly with the IFIC Foundation, and, presently, Senior Manager, Public Affairs, Monsanto Company; Carrie Dooher, JD, formerly with the IFIC Foundation, and, presently, Vice President, Social Marketing Practice, Ogilvy Washington; and Christy White, Principal, Cogent Research, LLC.

A separate five-year retrospective on Survey findings related to consumer perceptions toward food safety and critical food-handling practices was published in the June 2012 issue of the peer-reviewed journal, Food Protection Trends.

To access the JAND article, click here. The article is also expected to appear in the January 2013 issue of the peer-reviewed Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. For interview requests and any other questions, please contact the IFIC Foundation media team at 202-296-6540, or

The International Food Information Council Foundation is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, food safety and nutrition for the public good. The IFIC Foundation is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries. Visit