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Healthy Eating Varies by Generation

Just as each generation has its defining moment (e.g.; WWII, Woodstock, Facebook etc) they also apparently eat differently. According to a report by the NPD Group, older generations eat more healthfully than the younger generations. The report, “Healthy Eating Strategies by Generation” identifies the gaps between actual consumption behaviors and intentions; finding those younger generations (Gen X, Y, and younger boomers, ages 21 to 54) have the least healthful diets.

It might just be because those 54 and up often have a greater need to eat healthy due to underlying medical conditions.

What the generations appear to have in common, the report found, is a shared understanding of what constitutes healthy eating. They are all able to define healthy eating and are aware of the top characteristics of a healthy lifestyle:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat well balanced meals
  • Eat all things in moderation
  • Limit/avoid foods with saturated fat/cholesterol/trans fats
  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water/day

Maybe just educating consumers about proper health and nutrition should not be the main goal. Connecting the dots for consumers in terms of a product benefit to a fundamental characteristic of healthy eating may be the challenge.

While many aspects of their diets could use improvements, the largest deficiencies in adults’ diets are insufficient intake of fruits, vegetables, and dairy predicts and over consumption of total fats.

Dori Hickey, NPD director of product development and study author, said “It comes down to adult consumers needing help to improve the healthfulness of their diets. Knowing which consumer groups need the most help and understanding how to address consumers’ current and future needs and desires for healthy food is the opportunity for food and beverage marketers.”

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