Why most Americans want to be healthy but don't act on it


Choosing between junk food and healthy food

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You’re not alone if you begin a diet of kale and cabbage salads at the beginning of the week and end it with pizza, wings and guilt.

Nielsen and the Natural Marketing Institute teamed up to produce a report that reveals that there’s quite the disconnect between our healthy eating aspirations and our actual behavior. Three-quarters of people polled in the United States think that health issues can personally be controlled by eating healthy, nutritious foods regularly. But 91% of those polled admitted to snacking on junk foods such as candy, ice cream and chips throughout the day, according to the report.

In short, the report reveals that we want to eat healthy, but we cannot seem to give up our junk foods either. The report also stated the following disconnects between our aspirations and behavior:

  • The best way to stay healthy, according to 89% of respondents, is to take personal responsibility; 70% say they actively try to be healthier.
  • Health issues can be managed through nutrition, according to 75%, while 50% say eating healthy is a challenge.
  • Taking control of one’s health is achieved by any means necessary for 64%. But 66% say they need to exercise more or don’t exercise enough, while 50% say they give into cravings and “splurge” when dining out.
  • Organic and/or nutritionally enhanced products have no effect on grocery purchases for 50% of Americans. This is because 54% of people in the U.S. think healthy foods are too expensive to eat regularly; and 50% said they were not willing to give up taste for health.

This is your brain on junk food

We’re not surprised by this information because science and medical reports, published during the last 15 years in particular, present facts that show that for some people the brain responds to salt sugar and fat the way that it does to hard drugs such as heroine and cocaine. It’s all about pleasure and reward triggered by dopamine. This makes people crave unhealthy foods packed with salt, sugar and fat and overeat when consumed.

The 2013 eye-opening investigative book, "Salt Sugar Fat" by Michael Moss painstakingly details how the processed food industry hooked consumers on its products by piling the three ingredients into everything from bread to baby food, while creating brilliant advertising and marketing campaigns to draw in the masses. Did you know that Americans eat 33 pounds of cheese on average per year? Or that package labeling, particularly with ground beef, isn’t what it states it is?

So Americans need to ask themselves if their food addiction is more important than their health and act on what they want. Cutting out processed foods is tough but yields beautiful results.