Americans Lack Dietary Knowledge

Few Americans can accurately estimate the number of calories they should consume in a day (12%), but a much larger portion 74% seek caloric information on the Nutrition Facts Panel, according to the International Food Information Council's 2010 Food & Healthy Survey. People don't know how many calories they need in a day but they still look at calorie information, said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak,

WASHINGTON — Few Americans can accurately estimate the number of calories they should consume in a day (12%), but a much larger portion — 74% — seek caloric information on the Nutrition Facts Panel, according to the International Food Information Council's 2010 Food & Healthy Survey.

“People don't know how many calories they need in a day but they still look at calorie information,” said Wendy Reinhardt Kapsak, senior director of health and wellness for IFIC. “Sometimes consumers [come up with] their own thresholds. So maybe they won't go over 500 calories for a frozen meal.”

Of the 80% of Americans trying to lose or maintain weight, 19% keep track of calories. Others also likely consult the NFP to inform altered eating habits.

The study found that 69% of those attempting to lose or maintain weight are changing the amount of food they eat while 63% are changing the type of food they eat.

Americans are also paying more attention to salt than in previous years, with more than half (53%) expressing concern with sodium levels in their diet, and 63% checking sodium information on the NFP. Meanwhile fewer consumers are paying attention to total fat (62%), sugars (62%) and saturated fat (52%).

“Sodium has moved to the second [most popular item] people are looking for on the Nutrition Facts Panel,” noted Marianne Smith Edge, senior vice president of nutrition and food safety for IFIC.