Consumers are demanding more nutritional information than ever, and yet obesity rates continue to climb, with some dietitians worrying that Americans are becoming complacent in their unhealthy weights. Kale, chia and wheat-free will stay hot in 2014, while low-fat diets will fall out of favor.
An annual survey of more than 500 registered dietitians conducted by Today’s Dietitian and Pollock Communications pinpointed 14 trends to watch that explore such topics as which fad diets will be hot (and not), which foods top the trendy list and what will influence purchasing decisions in 2014.
Anti-wheat sentiment. Consumers will continue to lean on reduced-wheat diet plans like the Paleo diet, gluten-free or "wheat belly" in 2014, with just over half of the survey respondents saying these three diet fads would top the list in 2014.
"Despite the lack of evidence to support wheat- or gluten-elimination diets for weight loss or health—not associated with a clinical disorder or disease—consumers are still looking for ways to control their weight," said Jenna A. Bell, PhD, RD, senior vice president and director of Food & Wellness at Pollock Communications.
Ancient grains are new again. Despite the popularity of some low-grain diets, 32% of dietitians forecast continued fondness for ancient grains in 2014. Indeed, the percentage of new product launches featuring ancient grains or seeds has almost tripled since 2008, according to Datamonitor.
Just add kale, coconut or chia seeds. Nearly a third (27%) of dietitians surveyed say that kale will remain a hot ingredient in 2014. Moreover, 37% dietitians report that coconut oil is all the rage, followed by omega-3- and ALA-rich chia seeds (32%).
‘Low fat’ falls flat. Dietitians predict that the low-fat diet will be the least talked about plan for 2014, as consumers seek out more positive nutritional messaging.
Promoting MyPlate. Seventy-five percent of dietitians say they turn to MyPlate to help their clients eat right, and that they plan to continue relying on the nutritional tool in the coming year.
‘Health’ important in the supermarket. When it comes to shopping for food, 95% of dietitians say that "health" is important to shoppers. This is no secret among supermarkets, as "supermarket dietitian" is the fastest-growing job classification in grocery stores nationwide.
Doctors in the limelight. Whether it’s coming from Dr. Oz or weight loss guru Jillian Michaels, dietitians agree that consumers are exposed to more health information on TV than ever before. Sixty-six percent of dietitians predict that television doctors will up the diet discussions in 2014, along with more views about food from celebrity trainers and chefs.
'I'm as healthy as my friends.' Regarding weight and health, consumers are comparing themselves to recommendations from TV personalities and health-focused shows, according to 34% of dietitians. But they also gauge their health and weight by looking to their friends and family.
Bloggers on nutrition and health. Consumers are looking to blogs for diet advice, relying on lifestyle, mommy and credentialed dietitian bloggers alike. Dietitians reported that the topic of nutrition and health continues to boom on blogs and websites.
The (mis)information age. According to the survey, 67% of nutrition information is based on personal beliefs and half-truths rather than published peer-reviewed research. Moreover, 75% of dietitians surveyed say that there will be a preponderance of misinformation to digest in 2014.
More eco-conscious eats. Consumers are looking for more eco-friendly labels in 2014, with 38% of dietitians saying that "local" is where it's at, and 31% saying their clients say they look for sustainable food choices when shopping.
Americans become a little too comfortable. Dietitians worry that Americans may be becoming complacent about their unhealthy weight, with the national averages remaining stagnant. Forty-four percent feel that as we move into 2014, more consumers are becoming OK with maintaining an unhealthy weight.
Fruits and veggies: the biggest bang for the buck. Dietitians say that the most important first step to improve overall health is to eat more servings of fruits and vegetables.
Consumers’ insatiable appetite for nutrition and diet information. According to 66% of survey respondents, consumers' interest in nutrition and weight loss will only grow in 2014.