Americans chew the fat on eschewing fat

Research by The NPD Group shows that, New Year’s resolutions notwithstanding, Americans don’t opt for pound-shedding strategies until swimsuit time. According to the organization's 20th annual "Eating Patterns in America" and "Dieting Monitor" studies, the peak dieting month is not January (when typically, only 23% of adults are on a diet), but March (with 26% of adults on a diet).

"The difference between January and March is proximity to June, when the clothes start coming off for the summer months," according to Harry Balzer, Vice President of The NPD Group, Inc. "People start off thinking in January that exercise will melt away the pounds, but realize by March that it's much easier to change their food intake than exercise the weight away. Besides, exercise is hard work and eating is much more pleasurable."

When people do diet, Weight Watchers is the most popular branded program. However, three times as many people prefer a diet of their own creation

As is widely reported, today most Americans are overweight (62% of adults have a body mass index (BMI) over 25), according to NPD's latest research. So it is not surprising that many Americans are interested in losing weight. In its latest survey, NPD found that over 60 percent of Americans agreed with the statement, "I would like to lose 20 pounds."

What may be more surprising is that while Americans are getting heavier and many are battling extra weight, people have also grown more tolerant of their condition. In 1985, NPD found that 55 percent of adults agreed with the statement, "A person who is not overweight is a lot more attractive." During the 2005 survey, NPD reveals that this number has dropped to only 24 percent of people who agree with that statement.

"Perhaps Americans have found that the easiest way to deal with their weight is to change their attitude...and buy bigger clothes," said Balzer.

The NPD Group's "Eating Patterns in America" (EPA) study is now in its 20th year. It examines what consumers are eating, where they buy their food and beverages, who prepares meals, the most popular foods at each meal and what appliances are used. EPA takes an in-depth look at the restaurant industry, trends in diet and nutrition, and concerns about health and food safety. It also captures consumers' attitudes and behaviors about food in home and away from home.

EPA tracks the daily consumption habits of hundreds of thousands of Americans. The book compiles data collected from more than 40 NPD databases involving consumers, manufacturers and food retailers. Businesses use EPA to make strategic decisions about new products and services. EPA is based on data collected during the 12 months ending February 2005.

The NPD Group's "Dieting Monitor" study tracks consumer awareness, trial and participation in branded diets. It also tracks consumers' label-reading behavior, as well as concerns about carbohydrates, trans fats, sugars, etc. Dieting Monitor is a bi-weekly online survey, which is reported monthly.

For more information on either study or The NPD Group, visit www.npd.com.

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