Mintel: Many African-Americans diet to maintain general wellness, not weight

CHICAGO — A new report by Mintel may shed new light on the reasons why African-Americans diet.

According to the research, while 70% of African-American adults surveyed said they limit the amount and/or kind of food they eat to boost their general wellness, 52% are eating healthier to prevent or control high blood pressure and 46% said they follow a diet to maintain their current weight.

"Black adults are concerned with controlling cholesterol, blood sugar levels, hypertension, salt intake and other health-related issues," Mintel senior multicultural analyst Leylha Ahuile said. "This demographic needs effective, targeted solutions that can help them reach their weight-loss goals rather than information that focuses on appearance, which may not speak to their concerns — as dieting simply to be thinner isn't as important."

What's more, Mintel also found that among African-Americans who limit their food intake, 42% believed diets don't work, while nearly half (49%) said they have a hard time sticking to a diet. Many survey respondents said that difficulty finding healthy options at restaurants, willpower against hunger pangs and the expense of healthy foods make it all the more challenging.

"Marketers should emphasize elements of delicious taste to make healthier products more appealing to black consumers," Ahuile said. "For example, emphasizing the 'creamy taste' of a low-fat item or the fact that it's 'less greasy' compared to a full-fat item may help black consumers focus on attributes other than delicious taste and create interest in trying a low-in item."

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