ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS — Consumers increasingly are taking a holistic approach to nutrition, making mental and emotional health as much of a priority as fitness, endurance or avoiding illness. Interest in holistic health cuts across generations. New research from Innova Market Insights, however, suggests that not all age groups take the same approach to nutrition.

Gen Z, born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s, is the most likely group to use physical activity to improve health. Sixty-seven per cent of U.S. consumers in this age group claimed to be increasing physical activity to improve health and well-being, according to Innova. As a result, they’re seeking food and beverages that support a physically active lifestyle.

Gen Z is a driving force behind protein-rich innovation. They carried protein bars to school instead of granola or candy bars and grew up with drinkable yogurt. If given a choice between an energy drink and a cold-brew latte, they’ll likely choose the latter. They’re also some of the biggest consumers of alternative protein. More than half of Gen Z consumers reported eating plant-based protein at least once per month, compared to just 20% of baby boomers, according to Innova.

Millennials, on the other hand, tend to focus on balancing body and mind. Fifty-three per cent of U.S. consumers in this age group said they’re focused on increasing their happiness, according to Innova. Along with physical and mental well-being, they’re also interested in ethical consumption and healthy indulgence. Rather than reducing “bad” nutrition, millennials are seeking to increase their intake of positives like protein and fiber. Like Gen Z, they’re also concerned about environmental and ethical issues and are willing to pay more for sustainably sourced products.

Gen X, now aged between 39 and 54 years old, has a strong focus on emotional well-being. Fifty-five per cent of U.S. consumers in this age group said they’re taking steps to improve their mental health, according to Innova. Family time and time spent socializing outside the home are among their top priorities, and they have higher-than-average levels of interest in natural and organic food.  They tend to reduce meat, alcohol and caffeine while increasing the amount of fruit, fish and vegetables in their diet. Natural, positively processed and guilt-free product are likely to connect with Generation X consumers, Innova said.

Baby boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, now make up almost a quarter of the U.S. population. Unsurprisingly, healthy aging is at the top of their minds. They’re more likely than any other age group to report changing their diet to improve health, according to Innova. They show a strong interest in functional foods and plant-based options. They also tend to emphasize reducing “bad” ingredients like sugar, fat and salt.