Older Americans Eat Healthier

April 29, 2011

harris-us-adults-food-restrictions-apr11.gifThree-quarters of Matures (US consumers age 66 and older) restrict some type of food, a substantially higher rate than the overall 57% of adult US consumers who practice food restriction, according to results of a March 2011 Harris Poll. The next-highest rate of any age group was only 58%, among Baby Boomers (age 47-65).

Matures Restrict Salt 3x as Often as Echo Boomers

For every specific type of food or ingredient covered by the poll, Matures had the highest rate of restriction, often by a substantial amount. For example, 57% of Matures restrict salt, compared to 39% of Baby Boomers and three times the 19% rate of Echo Boomers (age 18-34). Matures also restrict sugar and carbohydrates at substantially higher rates than other age groups.

In general, rates of restricting a particular food or ingredient rise with each age demographic. There are a few exceptions, notably meat products, restricted by 11% of Echo Boomers but only 6% of Gen X (age 35-46) and 9% of Baby Boomers, as well as 16% of Matures.

Freshness Most Important Food Purchase Factor

harris-food-purchases-apr-2011.JPGAbout nine in 10 (89%) adult US consumers say freshness is an important factor when making a food or beverage purchase, more than say any other factor is important. Fiber and whole grain follow with an 81% importance rating each, and factors such as fat content (80%) and portion size (79%) are also important to most consumers.

However, further distinguishing freshness is that 60% of respondents rated it as very important, while no other factor was rated as very important by more than 47% of respondents (whole grain).

Protein Most Important Weight Factor

harris-manage-weight-apr-2011.JPGWhen asked what factors are important to their weight and diet management efforts, protein was narrowly selected by the most respondents (83%), closely followed by fat and whole grain (81% each) and calories (80%).

Unlike freshness, there was no substantial variation in rankings of very important, with respondents ranking different factors very important in similar proportions to overall importance ratings.

Local Sourcing Important for Produce

harris-food-origin-apr-2011.JPGSeven in 10 (71%) consumers said locally sourced produce is important. This made locally sourced produce the most important of a variety of factors relating to where food comes from, beating out others such as environmentally friendly packaging (65%) and animals fed with non-antibiotic feed (61%). These responses also did not show dramatic differences in the rating of factors as very important.

Gallup: More than 1 in 5 Metro US Adults Obese

One reason for generally high consumer awareness of food health issues is likely that more than 20% of Americans were obese in 174 of the 188 U.S. metropolitan areas that the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index surveyed in 2010. In the most obese of these metro areas, Evansville, IN-KY, 37.8% of residents were obese, compared with 12.9% in the least obese place, Boulder, CO.

About the Data: This Harris Poll was conducted online within the US between March 7-14, 2011 among 2,379 adults (aged 18 and older). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.


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