Fewer of us are dieting to lose weight these days but more of us say we're eating a healthier diet. So says a new report from NPD Group, a retail research organization.
NPD's National Eating Trends report found that the percentage of adults on a diet has decreased by 10 percentage points since 1990, while the number of Americans eating healthier has increased.
NPD found that at least once in a two-week period, more than 70% of Americans are consuming reduced-fat foods, and over half of them are eating reduced-calorie, whole-grain or fortified foods. In addition to these foods, other better-for-you items consumed include diet, light, reduced-cholesterol, reduced-sodium, caffeine-free, sugar-free, fortified, organic and low-carb foods.
Awareness of these nutritional food elements continues to grow. For example, in 2005, 36 percent of consumers surveyed said they were trying to get more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets, and the most recent NPD Dieting Monitor shows that number increasing to 46 percent.
The average American, according to National Eating Trends, has at least two better-for-you products a day.
Healthy eating to consumers today tends to boil down to basic mathematics, says NPD vice president Harry Balzer, who has been tracking consumers food consumption behavior for 30 years.
A generation ago it was about subtracting bad things from your diet, but today healthy eating is more a matter of addition and subtraction, he says.
The ongoing concern about health appears to be paying off, according to Balzer. Recent U.S. government studies confirm obesity leveling off, and most recently, childhood obesity stabilizing.
Even with concerns about the economic downturn, eating healthy still remains top-of-mind with consumers. According to a recent NPD Fast Check Survey on economic conditions, adults who identify themselves as financially worse-off compared to last year, said that eating healthy still had the greatest impact on the food and beverages their household selects. Saving money ranked a close second.
While dieting for both women and men remain huge markets, they are not growing markets, said Harry Balzer, vice president, the NPD Group, in a statement. The desire to lose weight really was a 90s trend. Today consumers appear to be making healthier food choices.