Foods Considered “Better for You” are Getting a Bad Rap

“Natural” is Seen as a Driving Force in What Americans Eat

Chicago, February 26, 2015 — Americans are cutting back on foods with labels that are considered “better for you” reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company, which just released its 29th annual Eating Patterns in America Report.  The number of products consumed with labels indicating a health benefit, such as reduced fat, low calorie, diet, etc. has dropped to the lowest level in over a decade.
“Today it seems we have entered a new phase of health in the American diet,” says Harry Balzer, senior vice president and The NPD Group’s Chief Food Industry Analyst and author of the firm’s 29th annual Eating Patterns in America Report. “ The first phase, back in the 80s and 90s, was about avoiding harmful substances in our food, such as fat, cholesterol and sodium. The second phase of health, from the mid-90s to just a few years ago, was a move to incorporate more beneficial substances in our diet, such as whole grains, dietary fiber and probiotics. It appears we are in the third phase of the healthy food evolution. This time we appear to be avoiding foods and beverages that have been “made to be better”.

Through the year ending February 2014, Americans consumed 1.9 products with a label that indicated one of 12 attributes. That more than 25% fewer than consumed daily if 2008, when it was 2.6 products per person per day.

Coinciding with the movement away from foods and beverage that have been “made to be better” for us is the increasing concern about genetically altered foods.

“By altering the foods we eat, making them “better” is there now a backlash against those products? Current consumption data suggests that we are entering a new phase in healthy eating. It’s looking like we want more of our foods and beverages to be “natural”.  But natural, like beauty, can be in the eye of beholder. I think we’re looking for foods and beverage to be as they we’re meant to be” says Balzer.

Want to know more about America’s eating habits? Harry is available to comment on what’s behind the numbers and what’s happening on the eating and dieting scene. 
Harry appears regularly on radio and television and in print. 

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Cristina Hilsenrath 
The NPD Group, Inc.

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