Attitudes to Healthy Eating - UK - February 2015
“That only 7% of people trust health claims on food dilutes their ability to add value. The food industry stands to benefit from combatting the serious lack of awareness about the high level of regulation in place that this implies.”
– Colette Warren, Food and Drink Analyst
This report covers the following issues:
- Scope for food industry to benefit from dispelling lack of trust in health claims
- Confusion around nutritional labelling impedes healthy choices
- Doubts about taste still burden light foods
Tackling the rising obesity rate has become a pressing priority for the government, as currently over six in 10 adults in England can be classified as overweight or obese according to NHS data. This and the related health issues are placing a substantial financial burden on the UK’s health service.
The majority of adults see the healthiness of food as important. However, with just over a quarter of consumers actually concerned about being overweight, this leaves a proportion of consumers who are overweight or obese, but aren’t concerned about it. Disrupting this lack of concern remains a key challenge for the government.
The lack of consumer awareness about the work EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) does to regulate fortified foods, widespread doubts about the healthiness of sweeteners and confusion around nutrition labelling are among other areas that need addressing to unlock significant demand among consumers.
This report looks at consumers’ attitudes and behaviours related to healthy eating, exploring both attributes sought for and those avoided. The report also explores related issues such as the attitudes towards health claims, nutrition information and sources used for information about health and food.
A lack of knowledge about nutrition information comes across as a key barrier, two fifths of consumers stating that they find this confusing. That two thirds think uniform on-pack information would help them to make healthy choices supports this notion.
The commitment of much of the food industry to uniform front-of-pack nutrition labelling thus comes across as a welcome development. However, building awareness of what the labels mean in tangible terms is also likely to be needed to build trust in the scheme and combat confusion.
While such confusion prevails, operators’ steps to improve the health credentials of their products will go undervalued by consumers.
Another key area where clarity is needed are health claims, which less than one in 10 consumers trust, as almost half the nation think that products make health claims without scientific proof. These views are diluting the value of functional claims as a selling point.
As such, the food industry stands to benefit from raising awareness of the work done by EFSA and the ASA to scrutinise such claims and the communication related to them.
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