Boomers Set Their Own Food Standards

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New Results from IFIC Foundation Survey Show How Generations Differ in What They Look For in Food

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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.

“These results further show how diet is not ‘one size fits all.’ This is especially apparent across the generations," said Joseph Clayton, chief executive officer of the IFIC Foundation.

It’s no secret that Millennials are changing the food and nutrition landscape. But Boomers have their own set of unique ideas about what they want on their plate.

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation dug deep into what Boomers think about food and nutrition in the 2016 Food and Health Survey.

According to new insights from the 2016 survey, perceptions of the healthfulness of certain foods vary dramatically between generations, especially Boomers versus Millennials. Boomers are more likely than Millennials to rate whole grains (80 percent vs. 70 percent), protein from plant sources (75 percent vs. 63 percent), and omega-3 fatty acids (71 percent vs. 59 percent) as healthy.

Boomers are also looking for different health benefits from their food compared to other generations, particularly Millennials. Boomers are more likely than Millennials to be interested in health benefits associated with foods such as weight management, cardiovascular health and digestive health. Millennials are more likely to be interested in benefits such as mental health, muscle health and immunity associated with foods.

“IFIC’s consumer research continues to provide valuable insights into consumer perceptions on a number of issues related to food and nutrition,” said Joseph Clayton, chief executive officer of the IFIC Foundation. “These results further show how diet is not ‘one size fits all.’ This is especially apparent across the generations.”

Boomers have a distinct definition of a healthy eating style compared to other generations. Boomers (32 percent) are more likely than the general population (22 percent) to define a healthy eating style by moderation/serving size and portions. Additionally, Boomers (30 percent) are more likely than Millennials (17 percent) to define a healthy eating style as including certain foods they define as healthy.

Boomers’ are also reporting that their opinions on sweeteners are changing. Almost four in ten Boomers (37 percent) believe “added” sugars are less healthful than they used to believe, with nine in ten of those who have recently changed their opinion on added sugars reporting they are now consuming less. Of those who report changing their opinion of added sugars within the last year, Boomers are more likely than Millennials (37 percent vs. 29 percent) to view them as less healthful than they used too. Additionally, Boomers are more likely to agree that low-calorie sweeteners can play a role in weight management (31 percent) than Millennials (14 percent) and the general population (18 percent).

Boomers are more likely to trust their personal healthcare professionals (HCP) for information on the types of food to eat, compared to other generations.

  •     Boomers are more likely to trust registered dietitians/nutritionists (75 percent) and personal HCP (73 percent) than millennials (65 percent RDN, 58 percent HCP) and the general population (67 percent RDN, 61 percent HCP).
  •     Boomers are less likely to trust fitness professionals (16 percent), farmers (11 percent), and bloggers (8 percent) than Millennials (27 percent fitness professional, 21 percent farmer, 18 percent blogger) and the General Population (26 percent fitness professional, 9 percent farmer, 15 percent blogger).

The results are derived from an online survey of 1,003 Americans ages 18 to 80, conducted March 17 to March 24, 2016. Results were weighted to ensure that they are reflective of the American population, as seen in the 2015 Current Population Survey. Specifically, they were weighted by age, education, gender, race/ethnicity, and region.

The survey was conducted by Greenwald & Associates, using ResearchNow’s consumer panel.

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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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