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Nutrition and You: Trends 2002 Survey
from the American Dietetic Association

Overwhelming majorities of Americans say diet and physical activity are personally important to them, and increasing numbers of consumers say they believe they are doing all they can to achieve a healthful diet, according to the American Dietetic Association's nationwide public opinion survey, Nutrition and You: Trends 2002.

"The findings of ADA's 2002 survey indicate that consumer trends that were spotted in the late 1990s are continuing into the 21st century - and appear likely to remain stable for the foreseeable future," said Atlanta registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Chris Rosenbloom.

"Healthful eating and physical activity are both necessary for optimal health, and we all need to incorporate both into our daily lives," Rosenbloom said. "This is a message that has clearly gotten through over the past several years."

Among the results of ADA's survey:

  • 85% percent of American consumers say diet and nutrition are "important to them personally," the same percentage as in ADA's last survey in 2000.
  • 75% percent say they carefully select foods in order to achieve balanced nutrition and a healthful diet.
  • 82% percent say exercise and physical activity are important to them personally, virtually identical to the percentage in 2000.
  • 66% percent of consumers say they make a conscious effort to engage in exercise and physical activity.
  • 58% percent say they actively seek information about nutrition and healthful eating.

"People are hungry for information on food and nutrition and they clearly understand that nutrition and physical activity go hand in hand for a healthy lifestyle," Rosenbloom said.

On the other hand, Rosenbloom said, some nutrition myths die hard. Nearly two-thirds of all respondents to the survey (63 %) said they consider body weight to be an indicator of a healthful diet. "In reality, no two people have the same body composition. The measure of a person's diet, as well as overall health, is a combination of factors, including weight," Rosenbloom said. The survey found many people continue to hold onto misconceptions about food and nutrition:
  • 57% percent agreed with the statement "Based on the information I've heard, I believe there are some foods that I should never eat."
  • 54% percent agreed that "taking vitamin supplements is necessary to ensure good health."
  • 33% percent agreed that "herbal dietary supplements are safe because they are natural."

In addition, a growing number of consumers - 63 percent - agreed with the statement "It seems like I am always hearing information about what not to eat rather than what I should eat." In 2000, 37 percent said the news "only tells me what I should not eat."

"Sorting through the never-ending flow of nutrition information and misconceptions can be difficult, especially for consumers who are trying to make the best choices and to maximize their health and that of their families," Rosenbloom said.

"Consumers should know that dietetics professionals and the American Dietetic Association are their top source for reliable facts about food and nutrition, and to turn to ADA for answers and help."

Every two years for more than a decade, ADA has conducted a survey to gauge people's attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and behaviors on important issues in food and nutrition.

With nearly 70,000 members, the American Dietetic Association is the nation's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Chicago-based ADA serves the public by promoting optimal health and nutrition.


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