Chicago, January 5, 2022 — A new year means a fresh start for many consumers regarding healthy eating; however, a new study by The NPD Group finds that what they want and need differ. Consumers’ dietary goals are often at odds with recommendations from health authorities. An example is that government-recommended dietary guidelines suggest that consumers need more fiber and less sodium in their daily diets. Yet, consumers focus on eating more protein, not fiber, and consume more sodium than is recommended, according to NPD’s recently released America’s Health Pulse: Closing the Gap Between Wants and Needs.  

For nearly a decade, protein has been a kingpin of US consumers’ nutrition plans. Forty-one percent of US adults tell NPD that they want more protein in their diets. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommend 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body weight daily or 56 grams for sedentary men and 46 grams for sedentary women. Despite wanting more protein, all adult age groups exceed the recommended amount based on NPD’s study. Total US adults consume, on average, 75 grams of protein daily. When it comes to fiber, while 35% of consumers want more fiber in their diets, as the government suggests, the average American falls far below the recommended daily intake.

Sodium is another example of consumers not adhering to the recommended guidelines. While consumers are concerned about their sodium intake, their daily intake far exceeds the less than 2,300 mg per day—or what amounts to about one teaspoon of table salt, recommended by the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The average adult consumes about 2,926 mg per day, but intake varies by age group, reports NPD that continually tracks U.S. consumers’ nutrient intake.

“In the food and beverage industry, health and wellness is a constantly moving target, and the question is always, ‘what will and won’t stick?,” says Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst at The NPD Group. “Food manufacturers and retailers can better position their products by understanding their consumers’ nutritional gaps and goals for living healthier lives. They can also help to educate consumers.” 

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