Thanks to efforts like the First Lady's "Let's Move" program, health is on everyone's minds these days. To prove it, research firm Mintel recently released a study showing that just over two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans choose healthier foods to stay well.

"Consumers are more aware than ever of their own nutritional deficits and what poor eating habits can do in terms of their long-term health," says John Frank, category manager of CPG good and drink reports at Mintel. "As a result, today's consumers are seeking out healthy food with greater ugrency. However, skeptical or confused consumers aren't likely to pay a premium for healthier food, making it hard for manufacturers to justify investment in nutritional/ingredient upgrades."

Some 31 percent of consumers choose healthy foods to lose weight and 30 percent do so to maintain weight. Mintel's report shows that the fact that these percentages are fairly similar across all age groups illustrates how widespread the interest in healthy eating is.

This creates a growth opportunity for retailers, as they can create their own private label versions of healthier products to generate higher profits, fill a growing need of consumers, and also reinforce a retailer's indentity in the marketplace.

Based on Mintel's research, as age increases, so does the likelihood that adults are maintaining a mostly healthy diet. Nearly half (48 percent) of Americans 65 and older say they pay close attention to how they eat, compared to only 32 percent of 18-24-years olds. Nearly one-fourth (24 percent) of the 65-plus age group (the highest percentage of any demographic) say thaey do not exercise at all. This could be a principal reason for their healthier eating habits, as that is their main way of controlling their weight and health.

"Younger adults generally still feel invincible and have a more naturally active metabolism, making it easier to maintain their weight," Frank says.

Mintel research also reveals that women tend to think that they know what's good for them more so than men. Some 67 percent of men think they are a good judge of healthy food verses 76 percent of females. Perhaps that's because 64 percent of women say they read nutritional information on products, while only 56 percent of men do the same. It also appears that Americans are trying to create healthier children, as 67 percent of women and 57 percent of men claim to eat healthy food more often to set a good example for their kids.

Health & Nutrition, Industry News