Well Noted: Survey Says Nearly Half Donít Count . . . Calories, That Is
If a calorie is consumed in the forest and no one is there to count it, will it still show up on your waistline? We analyze the IFIC Food & Health Surveyís disturbing finding that 43 percent of consumers refuse to even think about keeping track of their caloric intake.
By David Feder, RD, Editor
The International Food Information Council just released its 2006 Food & Health Survey (check it out at www.foodprocessing.com/whitepapers/2006/008.html or visit www.ific.org for more information). One figure jumped out at me in this comprehensive and indispensable opus. When asked how many calories per day a person of the respondentís age, weight and height should consume, 43 percent of respondents would not even hazard a guess.
A figure like that says to me American consumers have either given up or just flat-out donít care.
Considering the first supposition, in the 20 years Iíve been involved in nutrition the single most off-putting thing to consumers is the shifts and changes in ďfactsĒ presented in nutrition reporting. If thatís the case, you canít blame them for throwing in the towel. As Iíve reported before (see ďWhen Scientists Go BadĒ on this website), the irresponsibility in nutrition reporting has only become worse at a time when it should have become better. Itís a fire being fed not by sloppy journalists with no science background; rather, itís a contest between sell-out Ph.D.s each trying to be the big name in nutrition by gainsaying one another.
As for the second supposition, the first would certainly indicate a subsequent trend toward apathy, but it could also be a positive sign. Hear me out: Consumers may just have finally caught on that itís not so much the number of calories you put in your mouth as it is the quality of those calories.
The Food and Health Survey actually provides insight indicating both and neither of these suppositions are true. Iím not sure anything can definitively tell the whole story behind the fact that nearly half of Americans donít care one whit about the number of calories needed. What it does do is give a comprehensive picture of both what people eat and how their food consumption patterns are perceived when it comes to health.
Thereís also a fair share of ďIím not having problems Ė but my neighbor sure is!Ē attitudes. Well, thatís my 43 percentís worth. Click here to read the survey and see for yourself.
P.S.: There is a movement by some to bring back calorie counting as a direction in which to take consumers. Iíll be commenting on that in an upcoming report based on experiences at the Institute of Food Technologists annual conference and expo just held in Orlando.