Meat and dairy miss out on low fat message

By Sarah Hills

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Percent, Nutrition

Dairy, pork and beef products have lost their appeal among a group of consumers who may have decreased consumption of these foods because they are associated with high-fat content, according to a survey.

In the American Dietetic Association (ADA) survey, 23 percent said they had cut back on dairy foods, 33 percent said they had cut back on pork and 41 percent said they had decreased their consumption of beef in the last five years.

However, the majority (62 percent, 54 percent and 49 percent respectively) reported that their consumption of dairy, pork and beef had stayed the same, according to the Nutrition and You: Trends 2008​ survey, conducted by Mintel International.

An ADA spokeswoman said: “Possible reasons may be cost, or consumers trying to have a lower fat intake and often these foods may be thought by consumers to be high in fat.

“The findings highlight the need for education for lower fat alternatives within dairy and meat groups and the importance of their role in a balanced, healthy diet.”

The spokeswoman added that “amazingly”​ 3.5 percent of respondents said they had heard little or nothing about low-fat foods.

The survey also showed that 56 percent of respondents had cut back on foods containing trans fat in the past five years. However, just 15 percent had increased their consumption of probiotics, which are associated with gut health.

The spokeswoman said: “Given all the press and attention over the past few years on probiotics, it was rather surprising that respondents didn’t report a greater increase in consumption.

“This may reflect consumer uncertainty about probiotics or that greater emphasis in food dollars are going to other foods that are more clearly defined in consumer minds.”

Foods and nutrients people were most likely to increase consumption of in the five year period included low-fat foods (48 percent); omega-3 fatty acids (38 percent); garlic (36 percent); low-sugar foods (34 percent); and low-sodium foods (32 percent).

A large percentage of people also said they had increased the amount of whole grains, fruit and vegetables that they eat.

Company credibility

Out of a list of information sources the respondents were asked how credible they believed each was. Registered dietitians were listed as the most credible at 78 percent.

However, grocery stores and food manufacturers were not rated highly, appearing at the bottom of the list with a rating of 11 percent and nine percent respectively.

ADA, which represents nutrition professionals, conducted its first nationwide survey in 1991 and there have been six follow-up surveys. The aim is to measure people’s attitudes, knowledge, beliefs and behaviors regarding food and nutrition and to identify trends and understand how consumers’ attitudes and behavior have evolved over time.

The survey included telephone interviews with 783 respondents representing a nationally representative sample of the total US population. The ADA is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals.

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