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What’s the next big thing in America’s battle with obesity?

In this month’s Facts, Figures and the Future - a joint publication of the Food Marketing Institute, ACNielsen, and Phil Lempert – FMI’s Michael Sansolo writes about conclusions reached by Shopping For Health, the annual joint study done by the trade association and Rodale’s Prevention magazine.

Some of the key points in this study,” Sansolo writes, are:

  • More than half of shoppers say health issues greatly influence shopping decisions and 55 percent say they try hard to eat healthier these days, up from 45 percent in the year 2000. Shoppers see healthy eating as better than medication as the way to manage their health issues. Nearly 60 percent say they try to eat healthier to avoid future health problems.

  • Although a strong majority of shoppers are aware of many of the key food news stories in the past year-including mad cow disease, low carb diets and trans-fatty acids-they find the news less than helpful. Sixty percent say there is too much confusion in the news about nutrition and 46 percent say they have become less trusting of health professionals when it comes to diet. As a result, many see the cost and confusion as barriers to eating better.

  • Shoppers continue to make strong use of nutritional information on product labels. Nearly 60 percent of shoppers check the information panel whenever they buy a product for the first time and another 25 percent do so at least part of the time. Shoppers say they do this to make certain they are buying healthy foods.

  • Although the low carb craze may be slackening off, it's easy to see the incredible impact it had. Some 22 percent of shoppers said they started buying certain products over the past year simply because of the product's carbohydrate content-a whopping 13 percentage point jump in the number from a year ago. Although fat content remains the most frequently examined element of any food product, the percentage citing fat as the determining factor actually declined in the past year. The others showing significant gain in influencing shopper choices were fiber content and calories (10% of shoppers cited each as the reason they select a product.)

In other stories, Facts, Figures and the Future looks at:

  • The impact of this year’s devastating hurricanes on sales in Florida.

  • An update on Wal-Mart’s impact on the grocery channel.

  • How concerns about food allergies are influencing the food industry.

For these and other stories, go to:
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