Healthy Eating Is More Talk Than Action

While consumers talk about eating healthy, this does not constitute a health and wellness trend, said a speaker here at the opening session of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's Dairy-Deli-Bake 2007 Expo, June 2-5. Harry Balzer, vice president of Chicago-based NPD Group, said despite the fact that more people are reading nutrition labels, they are eating pretty much

ANAHEIM, Calif. — While consumers talk about eating healthy, this does not constitute a health and wellness trend, said a speaker here at the opening session of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's Dairy-Deli-Bake 2007 Expo, June 2-5.

Harry Balzer, vice president of Chicago-based NPD Group, said despite the fact that more people are reading nutrition labels, they are eating pretty much the same as they were a decade ago.

“Health and wellness isn't a trend,” Balzer said. “It's just anxiety. The government certainly thought the Nutrition Labeling and Education Act would help consumers make good eating choices, but it hasn't helped the spread of obesity.”

Indeed, he pointed out that in 1991, three states stood out because 15% of their populations were categorized as obese. Now, he said, at least half the states have that distinction, and in three states 30% are obese. So, he said, it doesn't appear there's a correlation between being educated about fat and sugar content and eating a healthier diet.

In fact, in the quick-service arena, sales of fried chicken sandwiches are rising now at the same time main-dish salad sales are declining.

On a positive health-related note, Balzer said consumers, while they don't want to eliminate anything from their daily diets, have recently said they want to add some items they see as healthy. Those are whole grains, dietary fiber, antioxidants, omega-3s and probiotics. Sales of products containing those are growing, he said.