US consumers confused by too much nutritional information

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 29th May 2017

A new study has uncovered American consumers are feeling increasingly overwhelmed by the amount of conflicting food and nutritional information available to them.

After surveying American consumers, the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC) also found shoppers are lacking in nutritional literacy.

Chief Executive Officer of the IFIC, Joseph Clayton, said the study concluded the confusion over nutrition is leading to bad diet and health decisions.

“As in previous years, the Food and Health Survey has shown that Americans feel overwhelmed by conflicting food and nutrition information,” said IFIC Foundation CEO Joseph Clayton.

“But this year, we’re finding troubling signs that the information glut is translating into faulty decisions about our diets and health,” he said.

Key findings

Key findings from the IFIC 2017 Food and Health study include:

  • Eight in 10 survey respondents said they encounter a lot of conflicting information about what to eat or avoid
  • Over 95 per cent of consumers seek out health benefits from what they eat or drink
  • Approximately three-quarters of consumers rely on friends and family at least a little for nutrition and food safety information
  • Six in ten consumers rated family and friends as the top influencer on decisions about their eating patterns or diets.

Age differences

The study focused on consumers aged 50 – 80 were focused on, with the survey finding they are more confident in their choices surrounding food than younger people.

Although many consumers in the 50-80 age bracket said they thought there was a lot of conflicting nutritional information available to them, only 47 per cent said the information made them doubt their choices.

This age group is also more interested in healthy eating than younger people, with 75 per cent cutting back high saturated fats, 71 per cent cutting back salt and 70 per cent trying to eat more whole grains.

Relevant Australian observations

Some of the findings from the study may not be as applicable in Australia.

For example, the Australian Federal Government has introduced a new country of origin labelling scheme which will be compulsory from 1 July 2018. Australia also has its health star rating scheme for companies to help compare nutritional benefits.

On 17 August 2017, the FoodLegal consultancy firm is running a symposium “Fighting for your Front pack” which will be looking at the impact of these issues in greater depth. More information can be found HERE.


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