Weight loss drives dietary change

Most Americans (70 percent) say they are concerned about their weight status, and an overwhelming majority (77 percent) are trying to lose or maintain their weight, according to the fifth annual survey of 1,024 people by the Washington, D.C.-based International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC). What actions are they taking? Most are changing the amount of food they eat (69 percent); changing the type of foods they eat (63 percent); and engaging in physical activity (60 percent).  Further, 65 percent of Americans report weight loss as a top driver for improving the healthfulness of their diet; 16 percent report improving their diet to maintain weight. Similarly, losing or maintaining weight is the main motivator (35 percent) for Americans who are physically active, yet a large majority of people (77 percent) are not meeting the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Physical Activity Guidelines.


Respondents continue to show a lack of understanding of “calories in” and “calories out” and their relationship to weight. When it comes to calories consumed versus calories burned, most (58 percent) do not make an effort to balance the two. Of those who say they are trying to lose or maintain weight, only 19 percent say they are keeping track of calories. Few (12 percent) can accurately estimate the number of calories they should consume in a day.  Furthermore, many do not know how many calories they burn in a day (43 percent) or offer inaccurate estimates (35 percent say 1000 calories or less).

Additional findings include:  Americans have heard of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (71 percent, consistent with findings from 2009); Most have heard of MyPyramid (85 percent), but the majority (71 percent) have not used it;  More than half  (53 percent) are concerned with the amount of sodium in their diet and more likely to look for sodium content on the Nutrition Facts Panel (NFP); Americans seem to be less focused on dietary fat than in previous years, with significant decreases in the number who report looking for total fat on the NFP; Americans are trying to consume more fiber (72 percent) and whole grains (73 percent).