If you think your diet is pretty healthy, the chances are you’re wrong. New research suggests that most people think the food they eat is good for them – yet with countries such as the USA having high levels of overweight and obesity, it seems that many are deluding themselves. Perhaps it’s time to think really carefully about what we’re putting inside our bodies and whether or not it really constitutes a healthy and balanced diet.

Did you know?



Research conducted by TNS looked at consumer attitudes, behaviors and concerns about food in approximately 1,000 members of public in each of the following countries – USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, urban Russia and urban China. Interviews were carried out online in June 2012 to provide an overview of adults’ food habits.

Obesity is a Key Concern

showing body obesity

Most survey participants admitted to concerns about their weight. Three-quarters said they watch what they eat in order to avoid weight gain – including 73% of Americans and 75% of Brits – and 64% had attempted to lose or maintain weight loss in the previous 12 months. In terms of actual overweight and obesity, 61% of Americans, 58% of Germans and 57% of Brits have cause to be concerned about their weight.


Are We Really Honest About Our Eating Habits?

Almost half of consumers are obese or overweight, according to TNS. Yet 81% of people believe their eating habits are good for their health! This suggests many people are kidding themselves about the healthfulness of their daily diet.

In fact, the research found that 67% of obese and overweight people thought they ate healthily, even though their weight would suggest otherwise. And the USA and the UK – both of which have high obesity rates – seem to be particularly blinkered to the possible dangers in their diet, with both countries having a high proportion of consumers who were confident they were eating healthily.

The report authors suggested: “Perhaps there is a poor understanding of how obesity affects health or a belief that food’s nutritional benefits outweigh any negative consequences of being overweight.”

What Are the Main Risks Posed by Foods?

showing body obesity

When asked what they thought were the main health risks associated with food, 78% of respondents cited obesity. Three-quarters thought cholesterol was a major problem and 58% were worried about diabetes.

Just 34% thought cancer was a significant concern, despite the fact that many cancers are now known to have dietary risk factors.

How to Revamp Your Diet

If the findings strike a chord and you think you might be overestimating your diet, here are some tips from the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 on how to eat healthily:

  1. Focus on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk products
  2. Choose lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts
  3. Aim for foods that are low in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars
  4. Stay within your daily calorie needs

 

Anna Seward

About Anna Seward

  • Senior Health Information Officer at Prostate Cancer UK
  • Experienced producer of consumer health information (written and audio-visual)
  • NCTJ-trained journalist with more than eight years' experience of writing and editing content on a range of subjects
  • More than seven years' experience writing about consumer health and medical research for charities, patient information websites and pharmaceutical companies
  • Social media content writer
  • Experienced proofreader and editor
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