Motivating Families to Lead a Healthier Lifestyle in 2011 and Beyond

The International Food Information Council Foundation hosted a webcast that debuted the findings from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Alliance consumer research on December 14, 2010. The webcast explored how nutrition communicators can encourage families to achieve a healthy weight and active lifestyle through food and physical activity. Download a copy of the slides (PDF) used in the webcast. Listen to the recorded webcast.

1.5 CPE Credits was offered for American Dietetic Association (ADA) Registered Dietitians and Dietetic Technicians Registered who viewed the LIVE webcast. If you attended this webcast and did not download your CPE certificate, please email with the title of this webcast.

CPE Learning Objectives:

  • Associate insights from the 2010 IFIC Foundation Food & Health Survey with challenges that can hinder families from preventing overweight and obesity and achieving a healthy weight.
  • Identify multiple perceived barriers and motivators parents face when attempting to achieve calorie and energy balance for themselves and their families.
  • Acquire best practices and incorporate consumer-tested messages for communicating about calorie balance developed from a three-phase consumer research project. 

Suggested Learning Codes: 4000, 4030, 5090, 5370, 6020

Research Overview

In 2010, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee provided their evidenced-based report to the secretaries of USDA and HHS, who commissioned the panel. After an extensive review of the scientific literature, this Committee recommended that Americans strive to achieve the following key recommendations:

  • Reduce the incidence of overweight and obesity in the U.S. population by reducing calorie intake and increasing physical activity
  • Shift intake patterns to incorporate more nutrient-rich food choices
  • Shift intake patterns to consume fewer foods with added sugars and solid fats as well as sodium
  • Meet the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines

With this in mind, the Dietary Guidelines Alliance (PDF), a public-private partnership among leading food, nutrition and health organizations and societies, food industry organizations and the federal government, embarked on a comprehensive research project to explore how American families might respond to messaging related to these key areas. 

The research was completed to: 1) aid the Dietary Guidelines Alliance in their effort to understand parents’ knowledge of, and attitudes toward, crucial food- and health-related topics and 2) inform future Alliance efforts related to its mission to provide positive and simple messages that help American consumers achieve healthy, active lifestyles, consistent with the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. 

The research included the following elements:

  • Phase I: Ethnographic research with “strivers” and “succeeders” families
  • Phase II: Qualitative focus groups with “striver” parents in Birmingham, AL; Atlanta, GA; and Oakland, CA
  • Phase III: Quantitative message-testing research with parents of children 2-17 years old with oversampling for key populations, including African American and Hispanic parents

Research Objectives:

  • Gather consumer familiarity with and gaps in knowledge regarding the core concepts of:
    • Achieving  energy balance (contribution of calories in and out, including physical activity)
    • Recognizing the impact of portion size on calorie intake
    • Making nutrient-rich choices within the context of individual calorie needs
    • Enjoying higher-calorie foods within the context of individual calorie needs
  • Identify the behaviors, motivators and mindsets that lead to successful action when it comes to the core concepts, as well as the barriers that prevent consumers from being successful
  • Determine what role situation and context have in decision-making around core concepts (e.g., in a restaurant, following exercise)
  • Craft communications that inspire action among consumers overall and among various subpopulations

Research Findings:

The full research findings, including key recommendations for communicating with parents about these food and health topics and more can be downloaded in the full report (PDF).

Other Resources:

Finding Balance: Understanding How Calories Work

2010 IFIC Foundation Food & Health Survey

Weight Management Resources

For Consumers:

Healthy Eating, Active Living Website

Healthy Kids and Families Website