Many consumers do not understand calories

schedule 2 min read
Topic(s): Nutrition & Disease Management Nutrition Health & Wellness Obesity

The Dietary Guidelines Alliance is a public-private coalition of health, nutrition, government and food industry organisations, with the stated aim of providing practical advice on how to apply the Dietary Guidelines for Americans in consumers’ daily lives. Its three-phase research project took a representative sample of the population based on the US Census and included ethnographic research, focus groups and a quantitative message-testing web survey focused on topics similar to the areas of focus in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee Report, the Alliance said.

Marianne Smith Edge, Senior Vice President of Nutrition and Food Safety at the International Food Information Council Foundation, a Dietary Guidelines Alliance member organisation, said: “Parents will soon hear lots more about managing calories, from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! campaign, to various food labelling initiatives. This research helps us identify where gaps exist in communicating effective messages on dietary guidance to consumers.”

The research found that of five behaviours that could be used to improve families’ diets, monitoring calories was ranked as the least likely to make a difference, with only 52% agreeing that paying attention to calories is important.

On the other hand, 82% agreed that more frequently serving nutrient-rich foods such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean meats and low-fat dairy was important for making their family’s diet healthier.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) thought balancing the amount of food and beverages consumed with amount of physical activity could have a positive impact on their family’s health; 69% agreed that paying attention to portion sizes could help; and 67% said that better management of higher-calorie food and beverage choices was important.