Keith Nunes

Conflicting information about food, nutrition and what products consumers may want to eat or avoid is sowing doubt in people about their food choices. Most consumers say they seek health benefits from what they eat and drink. Most notably, they seek weight loss, cardiovascular health, energy and digestive health, but almost half are unable to identify a single food or nutrient associated with the benefits.

For example, while sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil may contribute to heart health, just 12% of consumers are able to make an association between the nutrient and the benefit. Similarly, while people are interested in consuming food and beverages that provide energy, fewer than 5% of consumers could name caffeine as providing the benefit.

These somewhat startling findings are included in the International Food Information Council Foundation’s Food and Health Survey 2017. The survey was conducted this past March and queried 1,002 Americans ages 18 to 80. The results were weighted to ensure they are reflective of the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 Current Population Survey.

Confused shopper
Compounding the problem may be factors consumers link with healthfulness even beyond the nutritional composition of the products consumed.