American interest in nutrition declines

January 05, 1992|By McClatchy News Service

Are Americans less concerned about healthy eating than we have been the past few years? A recently released survey says we are.

We express less concern about serving foods that contain unhealthful substances such as salt, caffeine, cholesterol and fat, according to the report on America's eating patterns conducted by the NET (National Eating Trends) division of the NPD Group Inc., a major market research firm in New York state.

"Last year was the first year that dietary concerns failed to increase," says Dave Jenkins, director of NET. "Perhaps homemakers are concentrating on their personal financial condition as opposed to their nutritional well-being. Also the stress of a struggling economy causes many of us to run to the cookie jar."

Here are some other signals that Americans were less focused on health and nutrition last year:

Traditional views about obesity are changing, says the report. Calorie-watching is less important than in years past. Not only are more Americans overweight today than ever before, but fewer indicate any desire to do anything about it.

Americans are checking labels less frequently to see whether the foods they buy contain anything they are trying to avoid.

Less importance is being given to planning nutritious meals, encouraging good eating habits in children, serving foods with healthful ingredients and taking vitamins.

These changes in attitude also affect our eating behavior:

For the third straight year, the average American continued to eat more of his meals at home.

Americans are preparing simpler meals containing fewer items. The use of fresh products, partially homemade, and completely homemade items has declined.

The microwave is now used by 81 percent of all households, RTC making it the third most commonly used appliance after the stove and the oven.

Snacking, both in home and from restaurants, has increased. The most popular snack foods are soft drinks, fruit, cookies and ice cream.

Carried meals or brown-bagging continue to increase. The most popular carried items are fruit, red meat sandwiches, carbonated soft drinks and cookies.

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