Majority of American households have someone monitoring or restricting a part of their daily diet

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – June 10, 2014 – Most Americans (87%) say they’re making an effort to eat healthy – and with good reason, as a majority say they or someone in their household monitor or restrict their intake of a nutritional component like gluten or sugar, according to a new Harris Poll. Six in ten American adults (60%, a slight uptick from 57% in 2011) say they restrict at least one nutritional component from their diet.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,234 adults surveyed online between March 12 and 17, 2014.

    Sugar and salt lead limitations; gluten restrictions grow

    Sugar (36%, up from 32% in 2011) and sodium/salt (36%) top the list of ingredients American households have at least one person restricting or monitoring, followed by carbohydrates (22%). Over one in ten say they or a member of their household monitors/restricts intake of dairy (13%, up from 10% in 2011), meat or meat products (also 13%, up from 10%) and lactose (11%). The percentage saying they or someone in their household monitors or restricts gluten intake has nearly doubled over the past three years, to 10% today from 6% in 2011.

    With six in ten American households having at least one member restricting certain foods from their diet, this raises important implications for the food industry as a whole, says Todd Hale, Senior Vice President Consumer Insights, Nielsen. We’ve seen that a restriction for one, especially in the case of allergens and other health risks, can turn into a household ban. This can present both a challenge and an opportunity for retailers and food manufacturers.

    Perhaps not surprisingly, Matures (73%) are more likely than any other generation (54% Millennials, 62% Gen Xers, 60% Baby Boomers) to say they or someone in their household restrict or monitor intake of at least one of the tested nutritional factors.

    As Americans age, they develop stronger opinions and restrictions around nutritional choices. Those 68 and older are the most likely of all generations to pay close attention to nutritional labels and restrict corresponding dietary choices such as sodium or sugar, said Hale. Given the number of people, young and old, describing themselves as knowledgeable about food labels and making an effort to eat healthy, these generational divides suggest that actual implementation of change may stem more from necessity than knowledge.

    Consumers consider freshness to be top driver for food and beverage purchase decisions

    When consumers consider making a food and beverage purchase, freshness is the most important factor, with nine in ten U.S. adults (89%) considering it important.

    • Eight in ten say fiber is important (80%), while roughly three-fourths say the same for whole grain (77%), calories (75%), portion size (73%) and fat content (73%).
    • Roughly seven in ten place importance on sodium or salt (71%), saturated fat (71%) and dairy (69%), while roughly two-thirds indicate the same for sugar (68%), natural (68%) and carbohydrates (67%).
    • Looking at more specialized nutritional factors, 49% place importance on whether food and beverage products are genetically modified, while 45% say the same for organic. Nearly four in ten place importance on glycemic index (38%), roughly three in ten say the same for lactose (31%) and gluten (28%), and knowing whether items are vegan is important to just under two in ten (18%)

    Most of these factors’ perceived importance increases among older Americans, though with some exceptions. The percentage placing importance on knowing whether food or beverages are genetically modified hovers at roughly the halfway mark across generations (48% Millennials, 51% Gen Xers, 49% Baby Boomers, 48% Matures), while younger Americans are more likely to place importance on whether items are organic (55%, 50%, 38% and 35%, respectively), contain lactose (37%, 28%, 28% and 27%, respectively) and are vegan (27%, 19%, 13% and 12%, respectively).

    Looking to diet and/or weight management, roughly eight in ten Americans consider protein (82%) and calories (78%) to be important considerations, while roughly three-fourths indicate the same for fat (77%), whole grain (76%), saturated fat (75%) and sugar (74%). Roughly seven in ten believe carbohydrates (72%), cholesterol (70%) and sodium (68%) are important in this regard, while just over six in ten say the same for hydrogenated oil (62%).

    • Perceived importance levels again are generally higher among older generations and women.

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    TABLE 1a

    IMPORTANT WHEN MAKING FOOD AND BEVERAGE PURCHASES

    When thinking about all of your food and beverage purchases, how important are each of the following to you?

    Base: All adults

    Important (NET)

    Very important

    Somewhat important

    Not important (NET)

    Not very important

    Not at all important

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Fresh

    89

    62

    28

    8

    3

    5

    3

    Fiber

    80

    39

    41

    18

    10

    8

    3

    Whole grain

    77

    41

    36

    21

    11

    9

    3

    Calories

    75

    38

    37

    23

    13

    10

    2

    Portion size

    73

    37

    37

    24

    14

    10

    3

    Fat content

    73

    39

    34

    24

    14

    10

    3

    Sodium or salt

    71

    36

    34

    27

    16

    11

    2

    Saturated fat

    71

    40

    31

    26

    15

    12

    3

    Dairy

    69

    32

    37

    29

    16

    13

    2

    Sugar

    68

    34

    34

    30

    19

    11

    2

    Natural

    68

    30

    37

    30

    17

    12

    3

    Carbohydrates

    67

    28

    39

    30

    19

    11

    3

    Preservatives

    61

    29

    32

    36

    22

    14

    3

    Artificial sugar

    59

    32

    28

    38

    17

    20

    3

    High fructose corn syrup

    59

    34

    25

    37

    20

    17

    4

    Packaged food

    54

    18

    36

    42

    26

    16

    3

    Frozen

    52

    15

    37

    46

    28

    18

    2

    Genetically modified food

    49

    28

    21

    44

    19

    25

    7

    Organic

    45

    17

    28

    52

    26

    26

    3

    Glycemic index

    38

    15

    23

    50

    23

    27

    12

    Lactose

    31

    12

    18

    65

    26

    39

    5

    Gluten

    28

    11

    17

    68

    25

    42

    5

    Vegan

    18

    7

    12

    77

    20

    57

    4

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.


    TABLE 1b

    IMPORTANT WHEN MAKING FOOD AND BEVERAGE PURCHASES

    Summary or Very and Somewhat Important – By Generation, Gender & Children in HH

    When thinking about all of your food and beverage purchases, how important are each of the following to you?

    Base: All adults

    2011 Total

    2014 Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Children in Household

    Effort to Eat Healthy

    Millennials (18-36)

    Gen Xers (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    Great deal

    Some

    Not much/ No effort

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Fresh

    89

    89

    83

    89

    93

    94

    88

    91

    86

    91

    96

    91

    69

    Fiber

    81

    80

    72

    79

    84

    86

    77

    82

    76

    81

    90

    82

    46

    Whole grain

    81

    77

    72

    76

    79

    82

    73

    80

    76

    77

    90

    78

    39

    Calories

    77

    75

    68

    70

    81

    82

    71

    79

    70

    77

    85

    76

    46

    Portion size

    79

    73

    67

    69

    80

    79

    71

    76

    71

    75

    83

    74

    49

    Fat content

    80

    73

    62

    69

    83

    81

    69

    77

    66

    76

    85

    74

    44

    Sodium or salt

    71

    71

    63

    69

    75

    80

    66

    75

    66

    73

    82

    71

    46

    Saturated fat

    76

    71

    61

    66

    78

    80

    68

    73

    67

    72

    84

    70

    39

    Dairy

    72

    69

    65

    66

    71

    78

    66

    72

    70

    69

    73

    71

    53

    Sugar

    72

    68

    62

    65

    74

    75

    65

    71

    66

    69

    77

    70

    42

    Natural

    NA

    68

    68

    74

    67

    60

    63

    73

    71

    66

    83

    67

    34

    Carbohydrates

    71

    67

    60

    62

    74

    75

    64

    70

    64

    69

    77

    69

    37

    Preservatives

    67

    61

    51

    62

    67

    68

    56

    66

    58

    62

    73

    61

    32

    Artificial sugar

    59

    59

    58

    60

    61

    58

    56

    62

    60

    59

    71

    59

    33

    High fructose corn syrup

    60

    59

    57

    55

    63

    59

    56

    62

    58

    59

    72

    58

    31

    Packaged food

    58

    54

    53

    56

    55

    54

    55

    54

    55

    54

    58

    57

    36

    Frozen

    52

    52

    47

    51

    53

    58

    46

    57

    50

    52

    58

    52

    37

    Genetically modified food

    NA

    49

    48

    51

    49

    48

    45

    53

    47

    50

    60

    49

    24

    Organic

    NA

    45

    55

    50

    38

    35

    42

    48

    51

    43

    65

    41

    17

    Glycemic index

    NA

    38

    36

    33

    43

    38

    36

    40

    37

    39

    48

    37

    20

    Lactose

    NA

    31

    37

    28

    28

    27

    29

    32

    32

    30

    39

    29

    19

    Gluten

    33

    28

    33

    23

    28

    19

    27

    28

    31

    26

    34

    26

    19

    Vegan

    20

    18

    27

    19

    13

    12

    16

    21

    23

    17

    30

    14

    10

    Note: Multiple responses allowed.


    TABLE 2a

    IMPORTANT WHEN MANAGING DIET AND/OR WEIGHT

    When thinking about how you manage your diet and/or weight, how important are each of the following to you?

    Base: All adults

    Important (NET)

    Very important

    Somewhat important

    Not important (NET)

    Not very important

    Not at all important

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Protein

    82

    42

    40

    18

    11

    7

    Calories

    78

    38

    40

    22

    14

    8

    Fat

    77

    38

    39

    23

    15

    8

    Whole grain

    76

    36

    41

    24

    15

    9

    Saturated fat

    75

    39

    36

    25

    15

    10

    Sugar

    74

    35

    39

    26

    17

    9

    Carbohydrates

    72

    29

    43

    28

    19

    9

    Cholesterol

    70

    34

    36

    30

    20

    10

    Sodium

    68

    33

    36

    32

    21

    11

    Hydrogenated oil

    62

    27

    34

    38

    25

    14

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

     

    TABLE 2b

    IMPORTANT WHEN MANAGING DIET AND/OR WEIGHT

    Summary or Very and Somewhat Important – By Generation, Gender & Children in HH

    When thinking about how you manage your diet and/or weight, how important are each of the following to you?

    Base: All adults

    2011 Total

    2014 Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Children in Household

    Effort to Eat Healthy

    Millennials (18-36)

    Gen Xers (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    Great deal

    Some

    Not much/ No effort

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Protein

    83

    82

    77

    81

    85

    87

    78

    85

    79

    83

    92

    84

    50

    Calories

    80

    78

    75

    72

    82

    83

    73

    82

    76

    79

    88

    79

    48

    Fat

    81

    77

    72

    74

    83

    81

    74

    81

    73

    79

    89

    78

    48

    Whole grain

    81

    76

    73

    76

    78

    81

    74

    79

    76

    76

    90

    78

    37

    Saturated fat

    79

    75

    69

    73

    80

    79

    72

    78

    72

    77

    86

    77

    41

    Sugar

    76

    74

    69

    72

    78

    80

    70

    79

    74

    75

    86

    75

    45

    Carbohydrates

    74

    72

    67

    68

    76

    81

    67

    77

    69

    74

    83

    74

    37

    Cholesterol

    75

    70

    63

    66

    76

    76

    68

    72

    66

    71

    79

    71

    44

    Sodium

    73

    68

    61

    63

    75

    79

    63

    73

    61

    71

    80

    68

    41

    Hydrogenated oil

    67

    62

    52

    58

    70

    71

    56

    67

    56

    65

    77

    62

    27

    Note: Multiple responses allowed.

     

    TABLE 3

    FOOD RESTRICTIONS

    Do you or does anyone in your household monitor or restrict their intake of any of the following items?

    Base: All adults

    2011 Total

    2014 Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Children in Household

    Millennials (18-36)

    Gen Xers (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Any of these (NET)

    57

    60

    54

    62

    60

    73

    60

    60

    58

    61

    Sugar

    32

    36

    27

    35

    39

    53

    35

    37

    31

    38

    Sodium or salt

    34

    36

    23

    33

    41

    59

    34

    37

    25

    40

    Carbohydrates

    20

    22

    20

    17

    26

    26

    23

    22

    19

    23

    Dairy

    10

    13

    16

    14

    11

    10

    11

    15

    15

    12

    Meat or meat products

    10

    13

    13

    12

    11

    17

    11

    14

    12

    13

    Lactose

    10

    11

    12

    11

    9

    11

    9

    13

    10

    11

    Gluten

    6

    10

    12

    11

    8

    8

    11

    9

    11

    10

    Shell-fish

    8

    7

    5

    11

    6

    8

    5

    9

    9

    7

    Fish

    4

    6

    10

    6

    3

    3

    5

    7

    9

    5

    Peanuts

    5

    5

    7

    6

    3

    3

    6

    5

    8

    4

    All nuts

    4

    4

    4

    5

    3

    4

    5

    3

    4

    4

    None of these

    43

    40

    46

    38

    40

    27

    40

    40

    42

    39

    Note: Multiple responses allowed.

     

    TABLE 4

    KNOWLEDGEABLE ABOUT FOOD LABELS

    There has been some discussion recently about food labels. How knowledgeable, if at all, would you say you are when looking at food labels?

    Base: All adults

    2014 Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Children in Household

    Millennials (18-36)

    Gen Xers (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Knowledgeable (Net)

    83

    82

    82

    84

    83

    82

    84

    81

    83

    Very knowledgeable

    23

    22

    24

    25

    23

    24

    23

    24

    23

    Somewhat knowledgeable

    59

    60

    59

    59

    60

    58

    61

    58

    60

    Not knowledgeable (NET)

    17

    18

    18

    16

    17

    18

    16

    19

    17

    Not very knowledgeable

    14

    14

    14

    13

    13

    15

    12

    14

    13

    Not at all knowledgeable

    4

    4

    4

    3

    4

    3

    4

    4

    3

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.


    TABLE 5

    MAKE AN EFFORT TO EAT HEALTHY

    How much an effort do you make to eat healthy?

    Base: All adults

    2014 Total

    Generation

    Gender

    Children in Household

    Millennials (18-36)

    Gen Xers (37-48)

    Baby Boomers (49-67)

    Matures (68+)

    Male

    Female

    Yes

    No

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Make an effort (Net)

    87

    82

    85

    89

    93

    84

    89

    85

    87

    A great deal of effort

    31

    30

    30

    32

    35

    27

    36

    31

    31

    Some effort

    55

    52

    55

    57

    59

    57

    54

    54

    56

    Don’t make an effort (NET)

    13

    18

    15

    11

    7

    16

    11

    15

    16

    Not much effort

    11

    14

    11

    10

    6

    13

    9

    12

    10

    No effort at all

    3

    4

    4

    1

    1

    3

    2

    3

    3

    Note: Percentages may not add to 100% due to rounding.

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between March 12 and 17, 2014 among 2,234 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

    Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

    The Harris Poll¨ #55, June 10, 2014

    About Nielsen & The Harris Poll

    On February 3, 2014, Nielsen acquired Harris Interactive and The Harris Poll. Nielsen Holdings N.V. (NYSE: NLSN) is a global information and measurement company with leading market positions in marketing and consumer information, television and other media measurement, online intelligence and mobile measurement. Nielsen has a presence in approximately 100 countries, with headquarters in New York, USA and Diemen, the Netherlands. For more information, visit www.nielsen.com.