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Shoppers Focus on Healthy Eating

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. food shoppers are increasingly relying on their diets to achieve good health, according to Shopping for Health 2004, a new report released by the Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and PREVENTION magazine.

The study showed that consumers believe healthful eating is the best way to manage illness and prevent health problems later in life, and that they are paying more attention to nutrition labels and purchasing more organic foods for health benefits.

“This country's obesity crisis has alerted shoppers that they need to take control of their health by taking charge of their diets,” said Anne-Marie Roerink, FMI director of research. “In addition, they are increasingly looking to their local supermarkets and other food retailers for effective, long-range solutions.”

More than one-third (34 percent) of surveyed shoppers believe they have a healthful diet, while 55 percent said they are trying “a lot” to eat more healthfully. Fifty-nine percent said they wanted to lose weight, but for a variety of reasons, including to prevent health problems later in life (77 percent), manage current health problem (54 percent), boost self-confidence (44 percent) and to look younger (20 percent).

Shoppers also indicated that they are seeking more healthy food solutions from manufactures and retailers:
--46 percent want stores to offer a greater quantity of nutritious prepared foods;
--45 percent are seeking more foods without trans-fats;
--40 percent want more low-fat foods;
--39 percent want more low-carb choices;
--36 percent would like stores to provide more information about weight loss.

According to the survey, 83 percent of shoppers regularly look at the nutrition label when buying a product for the first time, and 91 percent will make a purchasing decision based on this information. Organic foods are also on the rise, with growth in products purchased in the past six months for fruits and vegetables (37 percent), dairy (24 percent) and cereals, breads and pastas (24 percent).

One in four shoppers said the poor availability of healthful options at fast-food and take-out restaurants was a major reason for poor diet, and 23 percent said they are too busy to eat healthfully.
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