Over Half of Americans: Figuring out Taxes Easier than Nutrition

Cant Figure it Out

The International Food Information Council (IFIC) just released the 2012 Food & Health Survey Report. When it comes to eating healthy, there is a big gap between what we know we need to do and our ability to do it. Examples, from an internet survey conducted by IFIC last month:

* More people think it’s easier to file their income tax on their own than it is to choose healthy food.

* In what seems as a bit of an irony, 90% of Americans consider themselves healthy, but 20% say their eating habits not at all or not too healthful.

* 55% of us are currently trying to lose weight.

* Only 1 in 7 Americans estimated the correct calorie count they need to maintain their curent weight.

* 44% are trying to eliminate or limit their purchase of products with High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS).

* Only 1/3 of Americans agree that artificial sweeteners can be a part of a overall healthful diet. (The other two-thirds must have been reading our thoughts on the matter here and here)

* 60% of respondents are trying to consume more protein. (This is foolish, as there is almost nobody in this country who consumes too little protein. Read The Protein Marketing Myth).

There are tons of other gems in this report. They paint a disturbing picture of our lack of understanding when it comes to making the smart food choices for our families.

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  • EVIL food scientist

    What’s so challenging with “eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” That’s 7 words.

    The US tax code comes in at a crushing 16,845 PAGES when printed out according to the US printing office.

    Somehow, I think taxes are a bit more challenging.

    • Gerome

      Evil, you are so right, but just like with taxes, people want to cheat on food choices. Pizza is yummy!

      But this report support my feeling that nutrition IS difficult to grasp, particularly when the mass producers of foods can drown out Pollan’s simple advice.

      The movements toward front-of-pack labeling is a great example of trying to dumb down the nutrition facts label so people will make better choices. I think it’s just another opportunity for people to think they’re doing the right thing — and not really know if they are.

      • Jill, The Veggie Queen

        Well, who would people be cheating with their food choices? Themselves? Their body? Cheating makes no sense. Making bad food choices often leads to problems.

        I like the 7 words because they fit right into my vegetable revolution model – eat more vegetables every day. It’s quie simple, really.

        I think that when you feel great regularly, you want to continue to feel healthy and energetic. When you feel sick and tired, you don’t ncessarily feel able to do anything about it.

        For many people, within a month of changing what they eat, and moving more, they feel motivated to stick with it.

        I have been a Registered Dietitian for more than 25 years, and have continued to push my vegetable agenda. It might finally be catching on.
        Thanks for this post.

        • Gerome

          Please read “Equilibrium’s” post, right above mine. S/he says it all pretty succinctly… particularly the elitist attitude. Eating well is neither intuitive or easy. It requires planning, education, access to fresh foods, and a bit of training the palate if you’re accustomed to less-nutritious fare. It may also require a lifestyle change if your social life includes dining out.

          And, yes, yes, those bad eaters would be cheating themselves. I’d bring every one of them home with me (I live in a yurt!) and give them a demitasse of my organic quinoa-flaxseed salad if only I could.   

    • Equilibrium31

      Yea, it’s easy to bad mouth people and think that it’s just a bunch of idiots that can’t read a food label, but the problem isn’t that people can’t count calories.  

      The problem is that eggs are good for you one day, then bad for you the next.  

      The problem is that if you really want to eat a healthy plate of dinner, you will have to either settle for an incredibly small selection of meals or will have to invest a significant amount of time into preparing that food.

      The problem is that even if you know something healthy to make, you may not enjoy eating that meal.

      The problem is that some of people’s favorite foods are incredibly unhealthy and knowing that doesn’t make them any less delicious.

      The problem is that we’re constantly bombarded with misleading information from food labels that advertise “Light,” “Low-fat,” “Natural,” etc. on products that are still pretty terrible for you.

      The problem is that it’s cheap to buy a grocery cart full of food full of preservatives and while it may be cheaper to buy a grocery full of raw fruits/veggies/meats, few people have the time or energy to deal with preparing a meal from scratch after working all day.  This isn’t the 50s anymore and few people have a stay at home member of the family that stays at home to cook.

      The problem is that healthy food often feels like a burden to people since society likes to judge people at the first glance of their waist size because they think we’re all born with the same metabolism and body structure.

      I could go on, but my point is that all this and more makes finding a healthy food choice more complicated than simply quantifying calories or sugars on the back of a label.

      • Suzielouwho

        I would contend that the average person cannot count calories and numerous studies have concluded the large majority, don’t even know how many they should take in ever day.  Sad commentary… and we wonder why we can’t move the needle on obesity.  I agree – you shouldn’t need a PhD to choose healthy foods.

  • Ken Leebow

    Interestingly, it’s pretty simple. 

    However, once you start listening to all the “experts”, it does get very confusing. 

    Eggs are good for you … no wait, eggs are bad for you! 

    For example, if you listen to the Esselstyn followers (vegans) … no oil or nuts. Wait a second … most (maybe all) dietitians tell us those are healthy fats. Now go to the other end of the spectrum … the Paleo folks and they tell us grains are the villain.  

    So, by cross-referencing these two different groups … the only “safe” thing to eat is veggies. You can have some fruit, but wait … not in a smoothie. 

    It’s enough to make a sane person, nuts.

    How simple is it? To stay out of the Circle of Disease … http://www.CircleofDisease.com … Anywhere on the spectrum for healthy eating they all agree …

    No fast food
    No Junk food
    86 the soda
    Forget about the processed food
    candy … ah a little bit
    and up the exercise (find one you like)

    Oh yeah, and you must be motivated to lead a healthy lifestyle.

    Ken Leebow

  • Equilibrium31

    Not a surprise.  Health studies constantly contradict themselves and a lot of the truly healthy stuff really tastes like shit to a lot of us.

    How hard is it to “eat food, not too much, mostly plants?”  Really hard when your physiology is working against that logic and even harder when your schedule/budget limits you even further.  Fresh food takes time to cook and nothing can really replace salt, grease, and sugar.

    It also doesn’t help that there is an elitist culture driving healthy eating.  This only further alienates people from making healthy choices.

    Until we have healthy restaurants as prevalent as McDonalds and a culture that can talk about good food without shaming others for their waist size, don’t expect anything to change…

  • Kevin

    * In what seems as a
    bit of an irony, 90% of Americans consider themselves healthy, but 20%
    say their eating habits not at all or not too healthful.

    Easy way to interpret this: people consider themselves healthy or not depending on if they have a medical problem and consider actions healthy or not depending on whether they contribute to medical problems. 

  • Jim

    If their worries are influenced by your thoughts, it is because you continue to spread scientifically unsupportable misinformation on HFCS and on artificial sweeteners, where there is no significant evidence of their causing any harm

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  • L DS

    People don’t want to figure out nutrition. They’re just need a pacifier to satisfy their cravings. If health information is contradictory and you care about your health, you’ll look up ingredients and study. Most people want a quick reference and are willing to believe what’s printed on the box. They can take that extra tax money and buy a triple cheeseburger and diet coke with it….