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Many Consumers Already Follow New U.S. Dietary Guidelines

CHICAGO — A new set of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are released every five years, was issued earlier this month, and one of the new guidelines’ strongest recommendations is something consumers have already caught on to — limiting sugar intake.

Overall, U.S. consumers have indicated sugar is the No. 1 item they try to avoid in their diet and therefore they are eating fewer sugary foods and beverages, according to The NPD Group’s ongoing food consumption research. The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend that only 10 percent of daily calories come from added sugars.

Consumers have cut down on foods and beverages with high sugar content, including carbonated soft drinks, fruit drinks, juice, ice cream, frozen treats and other sweet snacks, NPD reported.

Consumption of sugar-free, unsweetened and reduced-sugar products — which is highest among young children and adults aged 55 and older — also follows the trend of concern about sugar.

Calories were once the top item consumers looked for on nutrition facts labels, but now the top item is sugar, according to NPD findings.

The market researcher also highlighted other areas where Americans already align with the new guidelines:  

  • Cholesterol, the outcast of past guidelines, is no longer a dietary concern according to the new guidelines and NPD’s food consumption research shows consumers are in line with this change. Their concern for cholesterol content has continued to decline since 2006. Eggs, which bore the brunt of the anti-cholesterol push, are back in vogue and consumption is up as consumers look for more sources of protein.
  • The consumption of more fruit and vegetables is a perennial federal dietary standard and is still front and center in the new guidelines. The good news is consumers are eating more fruit, and fruit is among the top-growing better-for-you snacks. The bad news is that vegetables are still fighting to find their way into Americans’ hearts and stomachs.

“Consumer alignment with the new guidelines speaks volumes to our collective shift toward eating more healthfully,” said Darren Seifer, NPD’s food and beverage industry analyst. “We have nutritional information at our fingertips. Some seek it consciously and others hear it subliminally. If there is a weight or health problem, it’s typically not a result of nutritional ignorance.” 

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