New IFIC Foundation Survey: Americans Not Nearly As Fit As We Think We Are

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The International Food Information Council Foundation's 10th Food and Health Survey Reveals Gap Between Self-Perception and Reality, Economic Divide on Organic and Processed Foods, Where Health and Food Rank Among Priorities Like Time and Money


The 2015 Food & Health Survey: Consumer Attitudes toward Food Safety, Nutrition & Health, marks the 10th anniversary of an ongoing investigation into the beliefs and behaviors of Americans.

With the theme “What’s Your Health Worth?”, the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation’s 10th anniversary Food and Health Survey is offering a wealth of new insights into Americans’ health and nutrition, including perceptions of their own health, an economic divide on food-purchasing decisions, where health and nutrition rank among competing priorities, and ongoing confusion over dietary and health-related choices.

Self-Perception vs. Reality

According to the survey, 57% of Americans rate their own health as very good or excellent, yet 55% of that group is either overweight or obese.

The vast majority of consumers (84%) say they are either trying to maintain or lose weight.

Consumers also report efforts to choose more healthful options in their lives, with 82% trying to eat more fruits and vegetables and 76% cutting calories by drinking water, or low- and no-calorie beverages.

Economic Divide

Higher-income consumers are more likely to buy foods based on their production or source (locally sourced, no added hormones or steroids, organic) and more likely to report avoiding many specific food components and ingredients.

"Findings show that a minority consisting of higher-income Americans, and those in better health, seem willing to pay more for organic and locally sourced foods that claim environmental, safety, and health benefits, despite lack of evidence that these benefits truly deliver," said Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, IFIC Foundation’s senior vice president of nutrition and food safety. “The potential impact on lower-income Americans is to create doubt about the healthfulness of conventionally or typically available food, adding additional stress and guilt to buying foods that can provide nutritious benefits for everyone.”

Competing Priorities

While 37% of Americans cite lack of willpower as the biggest barrier to losing or maintaining their weight, 31% cite lack of time.

If people suddenly were given an extra four hours a week, exercise is the top activity (36%) Americans say they would spend it on, followed by time with friends and family (31%), relaxing or sleeping (29%), doing household chores or tasks (20%), reading (20%), or practicing a hobby (20%).

Four out of 10 (40%) say they spend more time tracking the healthfulness of their diet than they do following their favorite sport or sports team (31%), yet there is a significant gender divide: Men chose sports over their diet 46% to 27%, while women chose their diet over sports 51% to 17%.


Perhaps more than ever in the survey’s history, consumer confusion is emerging as a key concern. More than three-quarters (78%) say they would rather hear information about what to eat versus what not to eat.

For more information on the 2015 Food and Health Survey, visit

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

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Laura Kubitz
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Food Insight
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