Consumers much less likely to rate diets as 'excellent' or 'very good' in terms of healthfulness, even though healthfulness of the American diet has undergone little change over past 20 years, new report says

ROCKVILLE, Maryland , December 14, 2011 (press release) – has announced the addition of the new report "Health on the Restaurant Menu: Foodservice Trends in the U.S." to their collection of Diseases & Conditions market reports. For more information, visit

The obesity trend is significantly influenced by socioeconomic factors, such as income level and race/ethnicity that create complex questions for the food industry. There remains a clear relationship between household financial resources and diet perception: people who rate their diets as "excellent" tend to come from households with greater financial resources than those who rate their diet as "poor."

Black and Hispanic households have lower average household incomes and higher proportion of households at or below the poverty level. In poor neighborhoods across the United States, residents experience far higher rates of adult and childhood obesity than those in more affluent neighborhoods. Amidst poverty, scarcity, and food insecurity -- limited or uncertain access to sufficient food -- families struggle to keep food on the table. At the same time, many adults and children are overweight or obese.

But recent evidence suggests that change -- at least in the form of consumer self-awareness -- is underway. Historical research has shown that consumers tend to perceive that their diets are better than they are relative to widely accepted dietary guidance. During the past 20 years, however, consumers have become much less likely to rate their diets as "Excellent" or "Very Good" in terms of healthfulness, even though the healthfulness of the American diet has undergone little change over this period. According to the report, this finding implies that consumers may be becoming more receptive to dietary guidance.

As the nation struggles to combat the growing epidemic of obesity and obesity-related diseases, public officials, health professionals, and food industry participants are providing more and more information on the nutritional content of foods to help consumers choose healthier and truly nutritious diets. If a lack of specific information contributes to excess caloric consumption, then labeling in the away-from-home market may make it easier to moderate intake. Calorie labeling may help diners make healthier choices when eating out, or it may help them realize that they should consume fewer calories at other meals throughout the day to compensate for high-calorie meals away from home.

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