Most Americans know about nutrition, but fall short of actual needs, survey says

By Derrick Cain

© Copyright Agri-Pulse Communications, Inc.



WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2013 - While 79 percent of Americans say they are at least somewhat knowledgeable about nutrition, several gaps exist between their “perception of the adequacy of their diets and reality,” according to a report released Oct. 3 by the International Food Information Council (IFIC).

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The IFIC Functional Foods Consumer Survey found that despite consumers' reported knowledge about nutrition, the majority, at 67 percent, believe they fall short of meeting “all or nearly all” of their nutrient needs from “functional foods.” The survey defined “functional foods” as foods that have benefits beyond basic nutrition - such as blueberries, yogurt, and fortified milk, bread or cereal.

The survey said it further shows “significant disconnects” between people's beliefs about whether they are getting sufficient amounts of many specific nutrients and the reality of their diets, as judged by the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs).

IFIC said a comparison between the survey's findings about perceptions of diet adequacy, by specific nutrient, and National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data shows wide chasms between how many believe their intakes are adequate versus the actual DRIs.

“While there is some disparity between perceived nutrient adequacy and actual nutrient intake, it is notable that consumers recognize the benefits their food can offer,” said Sarah Romotsky, associate director of Health and Wellness at IFIC.

“Indeed, health-promoting foods and food components play an important role in meeting nutrient needs and improving overall health.”

IFIC said consumer interest in learning more about functional foods remains high. It said 86 percent of Americans are interested in learning more about foods that have health benefits beyond basic nutrition.

The survey was conducted by Mathew Greenwald & Associates of Washington, D.C., between July 9 and July 22 and included 1,005 people between ages 18 to 80.

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