Reducing portion sizes has become an important strategy for healthy eating – particularly among younger US adults, according to new research from market research firm The NPD Group.
The research organization’s latest report, entitled Health Eating Strategies by Generation, found that the top five healthy eating and healthy lifestyle strategies were consistent across generations: exercise regularly, eat well balanced meals, eat all things in moderation, limit/avoid foods with saturated fat or cholesterol or trans fats, and drink at least 8 glasses of water per day.
NPD Group compiled a list of 30 attributes for a sample of 5000 adult consumers to choose from, and found that smaller portions ranked highest among Generation X consumers aged 35 to 45, in seventh place overall as a strategy for healthy eating. Generation Y consumers (21 to 34) ranked smaller portions in the eighth position, while for younger Boomers (46 to 54) it ranked twelfth.
Older age groups, who often tend to have smaller appetites, ranked smaller portions lowest among healthy eating strategies compared to their younger counterparts, and women, particularly overweight women, were more likely to have an eye on portion control than men, NPD found.
Director of product management at NPD and author of the report Dori Hickey said: “Based on the interest in smaller portions among the younger age groups and the size of these age groups, portion control is an area of opportunity for food manufacturers. As they move through their life, these generations may continue the healthy eating behaviors they adopted in their younger years, making portion-control a long-term opportunity.”
There is evidence that paying attention to portion sizes may indeed have an impact on health, as a recent review conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that about 15 calories per person per day were added to the average American diet due to increased portion sizes between 1977-1978 and 1989-1991.