Over Half of U.S. Consumers Concerned About Sugar Intake But Concern Doesn’t Always Translate to Behavior

Chicago, September 26, 2017 — Over half of U.S. adults and teens say they’re trying to get less sugar in their diet, apparently the operative word is trying. With the average person consuming almost 3xs the recommended amount of sugar every day, or what amounts to 66 pounds of sugar per person annually*, it’s not an easy habit to break, finds a recent report by The NPD Group, a leading global information company.  The workaround for many consumers is to decide what they’re really willing to give up and then they keep some sweet choices in their diets.

The decision on what to keep and what not to keep eating in terms of sugary foods varies by generations with some acting on their concern and others just saying their concerned but not acting on it, according to NPD’s Impact of Sugar Concern on Consumption Behavior: What We Say vs. What We Do report. Older Boomers and Silent G.I.’s, who may be managing diabetes or other illnesses, are an example of a generation that is cutting out more sweet foods from their diets.  

When deciding which sugary foods to keep in or out of their diets consumers tend to separate them into categories, like more healthful versus indulgent sugary foods,  finds the NPD study,  which looks at the impact of consumer choice on 40 different sweet foods and beverages.  Cola drinks and fruit juices both contain a fair amount of sugar.  Consumers are more likely to cut back on cola drinks than fruit juices because they feel that juice has more nutritional benefits and the sugar is naturally occurring.

“The key takeaway for food and beverage marketers is that ‘yes’ consumers are concerned with the amount of sugar in their diets, but they are still leaving room in their diets for some sweet indulgence,” says David Portalatin, NPD’s vice president, food industry analyst, and author of Eating Patterns in America. “If there are nutritional benefits to a more sugary product call that out. If not, appeal to the consumer who wants more indulgence. The point is, it’s not a one-size-fits-all marketplace.  It’s a matter of finding the consumers who are the right fit.” 

* Source: American Heart Association, avg. for men and women, CDC/NCHS 2010, USDA; 4g per tsp.


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