Adults acknowledge healthy eating, but not all follow the rules

CHICAGO — Healthy eating behavior varies by generation, according to new research by NPD.

The "Healthy Eating Strategies by Generation" report found that younger generations — i.e., adults ages 21 to 54 years — have the least-healthy diets. But while older generations have better diets than their younger counterparts, it seems that 4-out-of-5 adults still need to improve the quality of their diet.

Despite the disparity among adults and their eating habits, the report also found that there is a common understanding regarding what qualifies as healthy eating. Across the board, adults consistently defined healthy eating and what makes a healthy diet as including regular exercise, eating well-balanced meals, eating in moderation and more.

"Educating consumers about proper health and nutrition need not be the primary goal for food manufacturers," said Dori Hickey, director of product development at NPD and author of "Healthy Eating Strategies by Generation."

"Connecting the dots for consumers in terms of a product benefit to a fundamental characteristic of healthy eating is more the challenge. It comes down to adult consumers needing help to improve the healthfulness of their diets," Hickey added. "Knowing which consumer groups need the most help and understanding how to address consumers' current and future needs and desires for healthy food is the opportunity for food and beverage marketers."

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