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Attitudes Towards Food: Weight and Diet - US - May 2009

As Americans seek ways to cope with recession, many are spending more time cooking at home and scrutinizing food purchases. Millions of Americans are also aspiring to lose weight and improve their nutrition without compromising on the taste and convenience preferences that are powerful drivers in the food and beverage business. At the same time, demand for locally grown, organic and “natural” packaged foods and beverages is quite high.

Simply put: Americans have become more health-conscious. Many are considering the nutritional value of what they eat to a greater extent than in the past. This is slowly resulting in behavioral change but it is likely to take many years before the incidence of obesity drops substantially.

This report examines the following questions:

  • How is the economy impacting what type of food Americans buy and how they eat?
  • What are the most popular cuisines in the United States?
  • To what degree do consumers believe that they have a healthy diet?
  • What foods and attributes of prepared foods are most closely associated with health, and which do consumers report working to avoid?
  • What proportion of the population believes that healthy eating is important, and what segments are most influenced by health concerns?
  • What segments of the population have high concentrations of consumers who report changing their diet in the last year?
  • How influential are health claims on packaging, and what segments of the population are most likely to prefer foods that have added health benefits (e.g., “heart healthy” or “high in antioxidants”)?
  • What strategies are consumers using to save money on food?
  • What type of information tends to have the most influence on food choices?

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Table of contents

  1. Scope and Themes

    • What you need to know
      • Data sources
        • Consumer survey data
          • Abbreviations and terms
            • Abbreviations
            • Executive Summary

              • Obesity and other health concerns shape food attitudes
                • Increased interest in cooking is another factor shaping American food attitudes
                  • Interest in healthier eating on the rise, especially among young adults
                    • Consider American, Italian and Mexican flavors, especially when targeting cooking enthusiasts
                      • Many consumers, especially women, change their diet to avoid guilty feelings
                        • Interest in natural and health claims is high in most segments
                          • Private label sales on the rise as consumers turn to family and doctors for advice about food and nutrition
                          • Insights and Opportunities

                            • Restaurant-quality dining at home: The affordable luxury of recession
                              • Figure 1: Strategies for coping with recessionary pressures, by age, October 2008
                            • Capitalize on the cooking trend by cross-merchandising cooking tools and giving guidance with produce and other ingredients
                              • Getting in on the sustainability trend
                                • Use technology to connect with customers and keep the brand top of mind
                                  • Capitalizing on the recession: Meal kits that can be used to create portioned, healthy meals
                                    • Maximize value with natural, traceable ingredients
                                      • Figure 2: Ingredients, food origins and additives, by all vs. dieter, July 2007-September 2008
                                  • Inspire Trends

                                      • The Fresh Factor
                                        • What's it about?
                                          • What we've seen
                                            • Implications for supermarkets
                                              • Video Kitchen
                                                • Get them early
                                                  • A concept to play with
                                                    • The Pen—Mightier than the Fork?
                                                    • Market Drivers: Obesity and Other Health-Related Factors that Shape Attitudes towards Food

                                                      • Key points
                                                        • Obesity has risen steadily in recent years, but now appears to be leveling off due to increased monitoring of caloric intake
                                                          • Figure 3: Incidence of overweight and obesity (states, DC, and territories), 1995-2007
                                                        • Southern states have a high concentration of obese consumers
                                                          • Figure 4: States in which at least 27% of the population is obese, by state, 2007
                                                        • 63% of adults in the U.S. are overweight or obese (CDC); 64% report that they are at least slightly overweight (Mintel’s survey respondents)
                                                          • Figure 5: Perception of weight relative to height, by gender, January 2009
                                                          • Figure 6: Prevalence of obesity and overweight, by gender and ethnicity, 2006
                                                        • Older adults more likely to be overweight and describe themselves as such
                                                          • Figure 7: Perception of weight relative to height, by age, January 2009
                                                        • Older segments of the population growing rapidly
                                                          • Figure 8: Population, by age, 2003-13
                                                        • Portion sizes have increased along with obesity rates
                                                          • Figure 9: Average daily per capita calories consumed*, by food group, 1970-2004
                                                        • Many consume without considering calorie counts
                                                          • Figure 10: Attitudes towards calories, July 2007-September 2008
                                                        • Exercise increased in recent years as obesity continued to grow
                                                          • Figure 11: Prevalence of Americans engaged in recommended and insufficient exercise, 2001-07
                                                          • Figure 12: Estimated proportion of Americans engaged in no leisure-time physical activity, 1988-2007
                                                        • Losing weight most common reason for watching diet, but heart health also widespread concern
                                                          • Figure 13: Reasons for watching diet, by age, July 2007-September 2008
                                                      • Market Drivers: The Home Cooking Trend

                                                        • Key points
                                                          • Cooking at home on the rise as Americans seek ways to save money and improve nutrition
                                                            • Figure 14: Food consumption habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by age, February 2009
                                                            • Figure 15: Food consumption habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by age, February 2009
                                                          • More than half of Americans are casual cooking enthusiasts
                                                            • Figure 16: Cooking attitudes of 18-24s, 2003-2007
                                                            • Figure 17: Cooking attitudes of 25-34s, 2003-07
                                                            • Figure 18: Demographic profile of cooking enthusiast segments, April 2008
                                                          • Frugality drives increase in frozen food purchase, switch to less expensive meat
                                                              • Figure 19: Food buying habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by age, February 2009
                                                            • Affluents less likely to modify their behavior in response to recession
                                                              • Figure 20: Food buying habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by income, February 2009
                                                          • Healthy Eating Perceptions

                                                            • Key points
                                                                • Figure 21: Importance of eating healthy, by age, February 2009
                                                                • Figure 22: Perception of healthiness of diet, by age, February 2009
                                                              • Young adults more likely to state that their diet has improved
                                                                • Figure 23: Perception of current diet as compared to diet a year ago, by age, February 2009
                                                              • Dietary changes likely to begin occurring between 25 and 34
                                                                • Figure 24: Healthy habits, by age, July 2007-September 2008
                                                              • Many low-income consumers want to improve their diet
                                                                • Figure 25: Importance of eating healthy, by income, February 2009
                                                                • Figure 26: Perception of healthiness of diet, by age, February 2009
                                                            • America’s Favorite Cuisines

                                                              • Key points
                                                                • American, Italian, Mexican and barbeque are among America’s favorite cuisines
                                                                  • Figure 27: Top 10 of 24 cuisines among casual and serious enthusiasts, April 2008
                                                                • Serious enthusiasts more likely to prefer healthy gourmet and cuisines closely associated with health and wellness
                                                                  • Figure 28: Less popular cuisines among casual and serious enthusiasts, April 2008
                                                                • Young adults more likely to experiment with ethnic cuisines
                                                                  • Figure 29: Cuisine preferences of casual and serious cooking enthusiasts, by age, April 2008
                                                              • Perceived Importance of Nutritional Value of Food

                                                                • Key point
                                                                  • Nutrition more important to women and mature adults
                                                                    • Figure 30: Attitudes towards nutrition and vitamins, by gender, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                  • Importance of vitamin and nutrient content tends to rise with age
                                                                    • Figure 31: Attitudes towards nutrition and vitamins, by age, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                • Ingredients Associated with Health and Wellness

                                                                  • Key points
                                                                    • Unprocessed fruits and vegetables most closely associated with healthy eating
                                                                      • Figure 32: Most important component for healthy eating, by age, February 2009
                                                                    • 18-24s less concerned about ingredients; preference for fresh highest among mature Americans
                                                                      • Figure 33: Ingredients, food origins and additives, by age, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                  • Exploring the Relationship between Emotion and Eating

                                                                    • Key points
                                                                      • Avoidance of excess calories motivated in part by the desire to avoid guilt
                                                                        • Figure 34: Dieting, by gender, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                        • Figure 35: Dieting, by age, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                      • Most Americans really enjoy eating and are trying to eat a more healthy diet
                                                                        • Figure 36: Attitudes towards food and food indulgences, by age, February 2009
                                                                    • Shopping for Healthy Food

                                                                      • Key points
                                                                        • Women and older adults more likely to look for health markers when shopping
                                                                          • Figure 37: Attitudes towards personal food buying habits and food consumption, by gender, February 2009
                                                                          • Figure 38: Attitudes towards personal food buying habits and food consumption, by age, February 2009
                                                                      • BFY Markets Resilient in Recession

                                                                        • Sales growth of natural foods reflects high demand for healthier, less processed foods
                                                                            • Figure 39: Natural product positioning, by FDM and natural supermarket channels, 2006-08
                                                                          • Sales of organics expected to dip in 2009, but demand remains strong
                                                                            • Figure 40: Total U.S. sales and forecast of organic food, at inflation adjusted prices, 2003-13
                                                                        • Innovation and Innovators

                                                                            • A case study in innovative private label branding: Safeway’s Eating Right
                                                                              • Packaged meals: Better-for-you offerings grow in the face of recession
                                                                                • Packaged salads becoming more gourmet and more like a well-balanced meal
                                                                                  • Nutrient-rich drink mixes meet demand for less expensive alternatives to bottled, enhanced water products
                                                                                    • Energy drinks also reflect the desire of many for a quick fix to the problem of fatigue
                                                                                    • Advertising and Promotion

                                                                                      • Key points
                                                                                        • Private label, coupons and circulars are tools consumers commonly use to cope with recessionary pressures
                                                                                            • Figure 41: Food buying habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by age, February 2009
                                                                                          • Social networks, doctors and media primary influencers of eating patterns
                                                                                              • Figure 42: Influences on food consumption, by age, February 2009
                                                                                              • Figure 43: Influences on food consumption, by income, February 2009
                                                                                            • Online marketing often emphasizes healthy eating tips and nutritional guidance
                                                                                              • Safeway’s FoodFlex: “Nourish the way you live”
                                                                                                • Albertsons’ nutrition IQ: Providing key information at the point of purchase
                                                                                                • Race and Hispanic Origin

                                                                                                  • Key points
                                                                                                    • Blacks more likely to watch diet due to concerns about heart health
                                                                                                      • Figure 44: Reasons for watching diet, by race/ethnicity, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                    • Blacks and Hispanics somewhat more likely to report change in diet
                                                                                                      • Figure 45: Perception of current diet as compared to diet a year ago, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                      • Figure 46: Importance of eating healthy, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                    • Blacks more likely to consider vegetables, fruits and less processed foods as critical elements of healthy eating
                                                                                                      • Figure 47: Most important component for healthy eating, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                  • Cluster Analysis

                                                                                                      • Healthy Information Seekers (37%)
                                                                                                        • Not Affected by the Recession (30%)
                                                                                                          • Frugal Trimmers (33%)
                                                                                                            • Cluster characteristics
                                                                                                              • Figure 48: Food attitude clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 49: Perception of healthiness of diet, by food attitude clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 50: Most important component for healthy eating, by food attitude clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 51: Attitudes towards food and food indulgences, by food attitude clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 52: Thinking about food and the current economy, compared to a year ago, would you agree or disagree with each of the following statements about food you buy to eat at home, by food attitude clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 53: How much does each of the following influence what you eat? Use a 5-point scale where 1 means “no influence at all” and 5 means “very strong influence” by food attitude clusters, February 2009
                                                                                                            • Cluster demographics
                                                                                                              • Figure 54: Food attitude clusters, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 55: Food attitude clusters, by age, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 56: Food attitude clusters, by income, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 57: Food attitude clusters, by race, February 2009
                                                                                                              • Figure 58: Food attitude clusters, by Hispanic origin, February 2009
                                                                                                            • Cluster methodology
                                                                                                            • Custom Consumer Groups

                                                                                                              • Affluents and women over 55 tend to be more likely to purchase based on nutrition profile
                                                                                                                  • Figure 59: Frequency and importance of reading nutrition labels and health claims before purchasing, by custom consumer group, January 2009
                                                                                                                • Mature women most likely to scrutinize labeling
                                                                                                                    • Figure 60: Custom consumer groups with the highest positive diet habits, by custom consumer group, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                  • Black and Hispanic diets getting healthier
                                                                                                                      • Figure 61: Diet healthier now than a year ago, by custom consumer group, January 2009
                                                                                                                  • Appendix: Additional Gender Comparisons

                                                                                                                      • Figure 62: Importance of eating healthy, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 63: Perception of healthiness of diet, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 64: Attitudes towards calories, by gender, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 65: Food consumption habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 66: Food buying habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 67: Most important component for healthy eating, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 68: Healthy habits, by gender, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 69: Perception of current diet as compared to diet a year ago, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 70: Ingredients, food origins and additives, by gender, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 71: Ingredients, food origins and additives, by presence of children in the household, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 72: Influences on food consumption, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 73: Attitudes towards food and food indulgences, by gender, February 2009
                                                                                                                  • Appendix: Additional Income Comparisons

                                                                                                                      • Figure 74: Healthy habits, by income, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 75: Attitudes towards calories, by income, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 76: Food consumption habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by income, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 77: Perception of current diet as compared to diet a year ago, by income, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 78: Nutrition and vitamins, by income, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 79: Most important component for healthy eating, by income, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 80: Ingredients, food origins and additives, by income, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                      • Figure 81: Attitudes towards personal food buying habits and food consumption, by income, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 82: Attitudes towards food and food indulgences, by income, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 83: Dieting, by income, July 2007-September 2008
                                                                                                                  • Appendix: Additional Race/Ethnicity Comparisons

                                                                                                                      • Figure 84: Perception of healthiness of diet, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 85: Prevalence of high blood pressure and stroke, by gender and ethnicity, 2006
                                                                                                                      • Figure 86: Prevalence of total cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease, by gender and ethnicity, 2006
                                                                                                                      • Figure 87: Prevalence of high total and LDL cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol levels, by gender and ethnicity, 2006
                                                                                                                      • Figure 88: Prevalence of physician-diagnosed diabetes and pre-diabetes, by gender and ethnicity, 2006
                                                                                                                      • Figure 89: Attitudes towards food and food indulgences, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 90: Attitudes towards personal food buying habits and food consumption, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 91: Food consumption habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 92: Food buying habits and the current economy compared to a year ago, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                                      • Figure 93: Influences on food consumption, by race/ethnicity, February 2009
                                                                                                                  • Appendix: Trade Associations

                                                                                                                    Companies Covered

                                                                                                                    • Albertsons Inc.
                                                                                                                    • American Beverage Association, The
                                                                                                                    • American Dietetic Association (ADA)
                                                                                                                    • American Heart Association, Inc.
                                                                                                                    • American Obesity Association
                                                                                                                    • ConAgra Foods, Inc
                                                                                                                    • Facebook, Inc.
                                                                                                                    • Food and Drug Administration
                                                                                                                    • General Mills Inc
                                                                                                                    • Greenfield Online
                                                                                                                    • Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation
                                                                                                                    • Institute of Medicine
                                                                                                                    • Jamba Juice Company
                                                                                                                    • Kraft Foods Inc. (U.S.A.)
                                                                                                                    • MySpace.com
                                                                                                                    • National Gardening Association (NGA)
                                                                                                                    • National Restaurant Association (NRA)
                                                                                                                    • Nestlé USA
                                                                                                                    • Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
                                                                                                                    • Safeway Inc
                                                                                                                    • U.S. Department of Agriculture
                                                                                                                    • Walmart Stores (USA)
                                                                                                                    • Weight Watchers International Inc.
                                                                                                                    • Whole Foods Market Inc
                                                                                                                    • Wolfgang Puck Worldwide Inc.
                                                                                                                    • YouTube, Inc.

                                                                                                                    Attitudes Towards Food: Weight and Diet - US - May 2009

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