On some level, eating “healthy” is pretty straightforward. We all know that fruits and vegetables are good for us and processed food is bad. And for the most part, we own our decisions, even when we don’t like the outcome. But when you dig a little deeper, eating healthy is hard – really hard. Especially since “healthy” food guidelines change and quality food options aren’t readily available or affordable to everyone.
So maybe it’s not such a surprise that 52% of Americans surveyed in the 2012 “Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health” found that doing taxes seemed easier than figuring out how to eat healthily.
Why healthy eating is hard
The 2012 study is over 10 years old now, we’ll grant you that. But if anything, nutrition is even more confusing these days with new studies coming out every week to tell us that what we were told was good for us a few years ago (a glass of wine, anyone?) is not slowly killing us.
The poll was commissioned by the International Food Information Council Foundation. It was conducted during the month of April with 1,057 American subjects ages 18 to 80 who were polled online. They were asked about “their health, diet, influences on food selection, and related knowledge and beliefs.”
People showed a large amount of confusion over healthy eating in general, most of which traces to the shortcomings of the food industry. The bit about taxes comes from a specific question:
Which do you think is harder to do well?
1) Figuring out how to do your own taxes – 48%
2) Figuring out what you should and shouldn’t eat to be healthier – 52%
People who said taxes were less confusing were more likely to be men (55%), those without a college degree (56%), those whose BMI put them in the overweight or obese range (60%), and those who had heart disease or high cholesterol (59%), or high blood pressure (57%).
Other interesting findings included:
– Americans believe their physical activity and sleep have more of an impact on their health than their diet.
– Half of Americans feel that enjoying their food is more important than worrying about what’s in it.
– Only 20% weren’t trying to do anything to change their weight.
– Only about one in seven Americans correctly estimate the number of calories they need to maintain their weight.
Let’s face it, the nutrition landscape is hard to navigate!
The latest American food survey
The 2022 survey is a bit different. More consumers than ever are trying to decipher food labels. And while more consumers than ever are concerned about the environmental impact their food has, it still doesn’t always translate to eating healthier.
Food choices aren’t just about knowledge. We also make them based on availability, price, emotion, and other values.