Industry News

Healthy Eating Habits Vary by Generation

January 3, 2011

While the majority of adults recognize the need to eat healthy, eating behavior varies by generation, according to a new report by market researcher NPD Group. The report found that older generations eat more healthfully than younger generations, but four out of five adults (nearly 170 million people) still have a diet that needs improvement. Titled “Healthy Eating Strategies by Generation,” the report identifies the gaps between actual consumption behaviors and intentions. It also found that younger generations—Generations X, Y and younger Boomers, ages 21 to 54—have the least healthful diets. Older consumers, ages 54 and up, often have the greatest need to eat healthy due to underlying medical conditions, and are driven to do so. All the generations appear to share an understanding of what constitutes healthy eating. Adult consumers, across generations, define healthy eating consistently and are aware of the top characteristics of healthy eating and of a healthy lifestyle: exercise regularly, eat well balanced meals, eat all things in moderation, limit/avoid foods with saturated fat or cholesterol or trans fats and drink at least eight glasses of water per day. Almost 85 million adults ranked nutritional value/healthful as #1 or #2 in importance as a need driver in deciding what to eat and drink; taste and price/value are in the top three for the three younger generations. For older consumers, freshness replaces price/value in ranked importance. While many aspects of their diets could use improvement, overall, the largest deficiencies in adults’ diets are insufficient intake of fruits, vegetables and dairy products and over consumption of total fats.