November 1, 2013
Americans Now Drinking More Water, Eating Healthier Food: Report
[ Watch the Video: Healthier Eating Habits In America Are Getting Better ]
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com - Your Universe OnlineAmericans are choosing water over soda and fresh fruit and vegetables over drive thru burgers and fries, according to a new report from research firm NPD Group.
Out of the top ten beverages and foods preferred by Americans, soda is listed at number four behind sandwiches, fruits and vegetables. Potatoes and salty snacks also show up low on the list at numbers seven and eight, respectively. NPD’s researchers say this is a promising trend and claim Americans are beginning to fight back against the obesity epidemic.
“Fruit is the number one snack and dessert in the United States and now makes up six percent of end dishes we consume,” said Harry Balzer, the chief industry analyst of this study. "The movement toward more fruit over the last decade is, in my opinion, a movement toward the need for natural. Fruit is generally not processed and requires less preparation than many other foods.”
Balzer believes Americans prefer fruit over vegetables because they're generally easier to prepare. While more Americans are choosing easy fruit, fewer are opting for the even easier to ingest fruit juice. The most popular fruits among Americans are bananas, apples, oranges and grapes. In fact, the majority of the foods in the top ten most popular foods list are generally easy to either prepare or eat on-the-go. This doesn’t only represent the most popular food choices in America but also makes up more than 50 percent of what Americans eat every year.
The most popular item in America is the sandwich, itself an easy food to prepare or even pick up through a drive-thru window.
"It's self-contained," said Balzer in an interview with USA Today's Nanci Hellmich. "It's the No. 1 food eaten at lunch; the No. 1 main dish at dinner (hamburgers and hot dogs are included), and it's the fastest-growing breakfast food."
Though not as easy to eat and prepare as fruit, vegetables are third most popular among Americans, likely due to increased availability and presence at many eateries. Milk and coffee are in the middle of the list and can easily be found separately or together in a number of drive-thru coffee shops across America. Potatoes, salty snacks and fruit juice are also easily obtained and consumed in a hurry, likewise with the number ten food on the list, cold cereal.
“While health concerns play a role in the American diet, the cost of food and the need for convenient preparation are also major drivers in our food and beverage selections,” explains Balzer.
Though obesity remains a large concern amongst health officials the world over, NPD says they believe the trend has finally stabilized in America. According to their research, about 30 percent of Americans can be considered obese, a number which has mostly leveled off in recent years. Balzer says he first noticed the leveling off of overweight Americans about ten years ago. According to his research, the number of overweight Americans has not grown since 2003. The number of obese Americans has also flattened out, but only in the previous two years.
Health officials consider people overweight if their body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher. People are considered obese when their BMI is 30 or higher.
Previous research from Duke University claims Americans are likely to make better food decisions when restaurants and food chains list calories on their menus. Consumers also make better choices when they can look up this information online or on a mobile application.