Food & Health Survey Finds Parents Tend to Focus on Children, Yet Neglect Their Own Diet and Exercise Needs; Holidays Offer Opportunities for Family Exercise and Other Healthful Activities

Parents with children younger than 18 are very focused on the nutrition and health needs of their offspring but are less likely to think about the healthfulness of the foods they choose for themselves or believe in the health benefits of regular exercise, according to results from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey.

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“Parents are being responsible and conscientious when it comes to the needs of their children, but less so in terms of their own health,” said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President, Nutrition and Food Safety, IFIC Foundation.

Washington, DC (PRWEB) November 14, 2012

Parents with children younger than 18 are very focused on the nutrition and health needs of their offspring but are less likely to think about the healthfulness of the foods they choose for themselves or believe in the health benefits of regular exercise, according to results from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey.

“Parents are being responsible and conscientious when it comes to the needs of their children, but less so in terms of their own health,” said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, Senior Vice President, Nutrition and Food Safety, IFIC Foundation. “In some ways, parents have significantly different beliefs and priorities than non-parents and these differences are important in terms of designing effective messaging to better equip them to achieve a more healthful lifestyle.”

Smith Edge added that the Survey results were consistent with the 2010 research conducted by the Dietary Guidelines Alliance, of which IFIC is a founding member. That research found a lack of understanding among parents about the role calorie balance plays in maintaining a healthy weight.

The IFIC Foundation’s 2010 Food & Health Survey revealed that only 16 percent of parents think they have a very or extremely healthful diet, while nearly 70 percent say they worry more about the healthfulness of the foods and beverages they buy for their children than those they buy for themselves.

A majority (87%) of parents believe that it is good for their health to sit down and eat meals with their family. With the approaching holiday season, Smith-Edge said parents can positively impact their own health and that of their children by basing meals on nutrient-rich foods with fewer calories, such as fruits and vegetables, whole and enriched grains, lean meats, beans and nuts, and low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. Holiday gatherings also are a great time to recognize that fun activities count as exercise and to make a habit of getting active as a family. Whether it’s collecting donations for a local food bank, dancing around the house or simply taking a walk in the neighborhood to enjoy the holiday decorations, the holidays allow for quality time together as a family. These activities also set a great example for the kids.

Of the 1,057 participants in the IFIC Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey, 29 percent were adults ages 18-49 with children younger than 18. On most questions about health and diet, parents hold very similar views as non-parents in that same age range and to the overall population. There are significant differences in several noteworthy areas, including the following:

HEALTH AND EXERCISE:

  • Only 16% of parents think they have a very or extremely healthful diet, compared to 23% of non-parents.
  • Parents (36%) are more likely to be obese than non-parents (28%); More parents (60%) are trying to lose weight than non-parents (55%).
  • Parents are less likely than non-parents to report giving a lot of thought to the amount of physical activity they are getting (58% vs. 66%) and to believe that the amount of physical activity has a positive health benefit (58% vs. 68%).
  • Not surprisingly, parents are less likely than non-parents to describe their level of physical activity as vigorous (12% vs. 17%).

DIET AND DIETARY COMPONENTS:

  • Although both groups hold similar views about the importance of taste, price, convenience, and sustainability in food buying decisions, parents (54%) are less likely than non-parents (63%) to say that healthfulness has a strong impact on their decisions about what to buy.
  • Parents are more likely than non-parents to say that concerns about foodborne illnesses (54% vs. 43%) or the safety of imported foods (49%, vs. 38%) have impacted the foods they purchase. On the other hand, they show no difference in their concern over chemicals in food, pesticides, animal antibiotics or undeclared allergens.
  • While parents and non-parents are just as likely to buy foods that are advertised as local or organic, come in recyclable packaging, generate donations to charitable causes, or rate high in term of sustainability, parents are more likely than non-parents (40% vs. 32%) to buy food with the word “natural” on the label on a regular basis.
  • Perhaps surprisingly, parents are less likely than non-parents to look at several aspects of packaging when deciding what foods to buy, including expiration dates (67% vs. 77%), the Nutrition Facts panel (59% vs. 68%), ingredients lists (41% vs. 51%) and cooking instructions/preparation time (38% vs. 47%).
  • Parents and non-parents both recognized that the MyPlate graphic conveys several important messages, including; people should eat a variety of food groups for a balanced diet; people should eat a healthful diet; healthful foods are found in each of the five food groups; people should have dairy with their meals and; people should make half of each meal fruits and vegetables. However, parents are notably less likely (75% vs. 81%) to believe the MyPlate graphic conveys the message that people can visit http://www.ChooseMyPlate.gov for more information.

For a copy of the IFIC Foundation’s 2012 Food & Health Survey Executive Summary and other resources for journalists and bloggers, please visit the IFIC Foundation’s Media Resource Page. The full data tables are available for purchase from the IFIC Foundation Publications Store at http://www.foodinsight.org or by contacting the IFIC Foundation media team at 202-296-6540 or media(at)foodinsight(dot)org.

For more on the International Food Information Council Foundation, its resources or to schedule an interview, please contact the IFIC Foundation media team at 202-296-6540, Cohen(at)ific(dot)org or Matthews(at)ific(dot)org.

The International Food Information Council Foundation is dedicated to the mission of effectively communicating science-based information on health, food safety and nutrition for the public good. The IFIC Foundation is supported primarily by the broad-based food, beverage and agricultural industries. Visit http://www.foodinsight.org.


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