Americans Suffering “Diet Disconnect”
NUTRITION More than three-quarters of Americans say they are confident in their ability to prepare food safely, yet many report not following simple procedures to reduce the spread of bacteria in their kitchen or ensure safe cooking temperatures. In particular, less than half report using separate cutting boards for raw meat, poultry, or produce, and just 29% say they employ a meat thermometer.
These findings-in the third annual “Food Health Survey” conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation, Washington, D.C.-are part of an extensive look at what Americans are doing regarding their eating and health habits. The contradiction or “disconnect” between consumers’ beliefs and their own behavior toward safe food preparation is among seven overall “diet disconnections” identified in this extensive survey over the past two years. This year’s new questions include general and microwave cooking practices.
“The gap between Americans’ desire to do whafs best when it comes to eating and what they actually do is going to take some time to bridge,” emphasizes Susan Borra, IFIC Foundation president and a registered dietician. “A new question added this year found that almost half of Americans think health information is ‘confusing and conflicting,’ which means there’s a lot of work to do to break through the food information clutter out there and make nutrition advice practical.”
Some 92% report washing their hands with soap and water when preparing food, and 79% maintain they store leftovers within two hours of serving. However, only 15% report checking the wattage on their microwaves, and a mere seven percent state they use a meat thermometer when using their microwaves. “Consumers certainly are a lot more confident about their ability to safely prepare food than they ought to be, based on what we learned,” contends Danielle Schor, IFIC senior vice president. 1We still have a long way to go to educate the public about the basics, such as avoiding cross contamination and cooking to proper temperature.”
Other interesting revelations include:
* Nearly seven in 10 people who claim they are trying to improve the healthfulness of their diet report doing so in order to lose weight, but only 15% know the number of calories they should consume each day, and just 37% agree that low-calorie sweeteners can reduce the calorie content of foods.
* Ninety-two percent agree that breakfast is an important meal to achieve a healthful diet, with significantly more rating it as “extremely important” than last year, but 54% admit that they do not eat breakfast everyday.
* Consumers’ concerns about the types and amounts of fats they include in their diet remain high and they are more aware of trans fats than ever (91%). Still, more than 60% do not understand that unsaturated fats are healthful.
* Nearly 80% agree that consuming specific foods and beverages can provide certain health and wellness benefits beyond basic nutrition, but 50% or more confirm that they currently do not consume foods or beverages that deliver these benefits, although most are interested in doing so.
Copyright Society for Advancement of Education Aug 2008
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