Many find food labels confusing

Nutritional claims also hard to understand
  • Deborah Condon

While the vast majority of adults recognise that it is important to eat well, half are confused about what they should be eating and 60% feel that food labels and nutritional claims can be difficult to understand, new research has found.

According to the findings from Bord Bia, 88% of adults recognise the importance of eating well and feel that there is a link between diet and mental wellbeing.

However, only around 33% admit to eating healthily themselves.

The research was undertaken as part of Bord Bia's PERIscope study, which has been carried out on an ongoing basis since 2001. It looks at consumer attitudes to a number of food-related topics such as health, cooking, price and convenience.

The study is carried out across eight countries, including Ireland, the UK, China and the US, and involves over 8,000 interviews.

According to these latest findings, fewer people now view ‘low fat' as a healthy option. In 2006, 71% felt that low fat products were healthy compared to 58% now, while almost 60% now check their food for its sugar content.

Some 84% of adults said that they try to eat high-fibre foods and 94% try to eat a lot of fruit and vegetables. Most adults are also trying to consume less bad fats, salt and soft drinks

While most parents try to make their children eat a balanced diet, almost half said they struggle to get their children to eat vegetables.

When it comes to cooking and eating habits, 69% of adults now cook from scratch, an increase from 46% in 2005. Some 32% admit to skipping breakfast in the morning, however in 2005, this figure was at almost 50%.

Some 40% said that they eat takeaways once a week, while around 50% bring their own lunch to work.

When it comes to price, convenience and local food, people often choose foods based on how easy they are to prepare and how quickly they cook. Most people check food for quality symbols and also check the country of origin, while 67% said they like to buy local.

Meanwhile, 50% of people are concerned about the amount of food they throw away and a similar number say they buy brands that use environmentally sensitive packaging.

According to Grace Binchy of Bord Bia, these findings can help food and drink producers to make informed decisions that serve customers' needs better.

"For instance, we know that nearly 70% of those surveyed want help to eat well. With this in mind, manufacturers should consider how they can help people to do just that, as well as digest nutritional labelling, create convenience in their lives and address changing perceptions around sustainability," she commented.


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