CONSUMERS ARE BUYING 'HEALTHY'

Those questions were recently put to consumers outside a few supermarkets on the East and West coasts in a random survey by SN. While most shoppers said they have significantly redirected purchases toward healthier products, some said they are avoiding the new trends.Those dissenters cited poor taste of healthy foods and frustration over conflicting media reports of the benefits of natural foods.Among

Those questions were recently put to consumers outside a few supermarkets on the East and West coasts in a random survey by SN. While most shoppers said they have significantly redirected purchases toward healthier products, some said they are avoiding the new trends.

Those dissenters cited poor taste of healthy foods and frustration over conflicting media reports of the benefits of natural foods.

Among the most frequent reasons given for switching to healthier diets were the addition of children into a household and the onset of specific health problems. Some shoppers said they were practicing preventive medicine by switching diets and noted they were also including exercise as part of their routines.

Most frequently mentioned health food items on shopping lists included products geared to low-fat and low-cholesterol diets, preservative-free items, and fresh fruits and vegetables.

Some shoppers said they are now more likely to frequent the perimeter sections of supermarkets, which focus on natural and prepared foods.

The interviews were conducted outside the following stores: East Coast -- A&P in Thornwood, N.Y.; ShopRite in Thornwood, N.Y.; Edwards Super Food store in Tarrytown, N.Y. West Coast -- Vons Pavilions in the West Hollywood area and a Vons Food & Drug store near downtown Los Angeles.

Francisco Largo

A&P shopper

I eat foods that are better for me now. I am on a diet, so I'm not supposed to eat anything with spices -- I have to listen to my doctor. Now I don't drink wine either. I'm not supposed to eat pork, but sometimes I buy a pork loin and cook it -- not a lot, but sometimes -- and it's very good. But mostly I try to watch what I eat.

Fred Wilson

A&P shopper

I don't bother with watching what I eat. I'm in good shape. I don't fight it -- whatever comes, comes. I eat what I like and my doctor doesn't tell me not to. I hear what other people say, but they're not me and I don't let them tell me what to eat.

Valentina Fustinoni

A&P shopper

We buy healthy foods. My husband's doctor said he's got high cholesterol, so we eat white meat and pasta and I buy healthy snacks for my kids. We're getting older, so I think more about it. We've all got to think more about it.

Antoinette Pescara

A&P shopper

Sometimes I go for the cheeses that are lower in fat, but not all the time. And I buy low-calorie salad dressings. I buy them because I hear the news about low calories and cholesterol. I just hope they work.

Elizabeth Brison

A&P shopper

I think a lot about our health now. We have high cholesterol and my husband is ill, so we eat chicken and fruits and vegetables -- a lot of lettuce. We like salads. And I sometimes buy low-fat salad dressings and dairy products, like no-fat milk.

Patricia Ewing

ShopRite shopper

I like to keep in shape, so I eat pasta, fish, chicken. I probably eat better now than I did a few years ago because of my kids. I want them to eat well.

Susan Bartimioli

ShopRite shopper

I'm a nurse, so I'm a little bit more aware of my eating habits. I try to stay in shape. We don't eat a lot of meat. I shop the perimeter of the store so we eat a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. When we do eat snacks, I buy healthier ones. I'm not freakish about it, but I like to watch what I eat.

Lisa Johannsen

(with children Jared and Jordan) ShopRite shopper

We try to eat healthy foods. I decided we should eat better because of the kids, and I would say we eat better now than we did a few years ago. We eat fat-free ice cream and light breads and low-sodium foods. We buy light snacks and fruits and vegetables -- a lot of vegetables. The kids like them.

Carla Zimbalist

Pavilions shopper

I work out all the time, and I'm on a body-building exercise program, so I buy a lot of health foods. I buy healthy cereals with no sugar or fat, and lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, fish and chicken, whole-grain breads and pastas.

Tom Van Noy

Pavilions shopper

I eat a lot of salads, so I buy fresh fruits and vegetables. I also buy a lot of health foods, but I especially like the salads, because the doctor told me that's what I needed to eat after gall bladder surgery.

Joe Cabanatan

Pavilions shopper

I don't buy many health-oriented foods because I'm not concerned about them. I need calories and foods with fat because I'm skinny.

Beth Laski

Pavilions shopper

I don't buy health foods because I don't like them, particularly granola. I do like salads, though, so I buy a lot of fruits and vegetables. But I eat out a lot, so I don't shop very much. This is my first shopping trip in two months.

Megan Johnson

Pavilions shopper

I try to buy healthy foods -- anything that uses whole grain instead of regular flour, fat-free tortilla chips and rice cakes, products that are sweetened with juice instead of sugar -- because I worry about my health long-term. And I don't eat any meat. I recently bought some fat-free frozen entrees that were really bad. What's really good is fat-free tortilla chips, especially the salsa-flavored chips.

Ed Palmer

Edwards shopper

I'm in shape and I don't pay attention to what the media says because this week something is OK to eat and the next week they're telling you it's bad for you. So I eat the same way I've always eaten. I haven't changed my eating habits at all and I don't pay attention to the news.

Deah DeHaven

Pavilions shopper

I buy primarily fresh products -- items without preservatives, MSG or artificial flavors, and definitely nothing that's processed, because of the way those additives make me feel. I'm prone to migraine headaches, and those kinds of ingredients give me the shakes and make me jittery. I recently tried some cookies that were free of sugar, and they had absolutely no taste and didn't give me any sort of desirable effect when I ate them.

Wes Wheadon

Pavilions shopper

Of course I buy healthy foods. I try to buy products that are as fresh as possible and, if possible, products that are grown without pesticides, preservatives or chemicals. And I try to avoid things like cold cuts that are preserved with sorbates and nitrates. I try to buy items that are processed as little as possible, and I avoid all canned products.

Kenny Moore

Vons shopper

Sometimes I buy health-oriented products, such as herbal teas and foods that are low-fat, low-salt and low-cal, because I'm watching my health, and I don't want any major problems when I get old.

Irene Reyes

Vons shopper

I buy fresh fruits and vegetables, but I don't buy any health products, because they don't taste very good.

Patricia Donnelly

Vons shopper

Do I buy health foods? Absolutely. Mainly low-fat products, because my mother had a stroke and colon cancer, and fat-free foods are one way to prevent a recurrence for my mother and problems for myself. So I buy low-fat ice cream, sour cream, cheeses and mayonnaise, regardless of what it costs. The totally nonfat mayonnaise is particularly excellent. The low-fat cheese is horrible.

Miguel Aguilar

Vons shopper

I buy fruits and vegetables and low-salt and low-calorie products, because it's better for your health.

Michelle Mulet

Vons shopper

I usually try to buy low-fat foods, but the stuff I eat regularly is healthy anyway -- mainly fruits and vegetables, which are high in fiber, low in calories and have high carbos. I do it because I find myself more energetic when I eat healthy.

Gerald Cedrone

A&P shopper

I buy low-fat items. I buy low-fat cream cheese and "skim milk-plus" because I don't like the taste of the regular skim milk. I buy skinless chicken, too.