White OutIt is becoming increasingly obvious that, when it comes to the issue of obesity, Americans are not concerned solely about themselves. This is particularly true when considering the number of school systems subjected to parental lobbying to remove so-called junk foods from in and around their cafeterias. However, the healthful parents are having an impact elsewhere as well.
In a national survey of nearly 600 parents, Insight Express (Stamford, Conn.) found that the availability of healthful beverages plays an important role in restaurant selection. In fact, 63% of respondents choose restaurants based on whether they promote healthful beverages over sugary drinks, the vast majority (70%) saying they would like their children to drink milk when dining in a restaurant. Some 62% said their children are eating and drinking “healthier” at home.
This is welcome news, considering the widening availability of milk among restaurants, fast-food options in particular. In the past year, both McDonald's (Oak Brook, Ill.) and Wendy's (Dublin, Ohio) have begun offering single-serve, plastic cartons of milk with their children's meals. All of this has been in response to a number of studies relating low milk consumption to poor health, namely an increased likelihood of broken bones or obesity.
Commenting on the survey's findings, Jeff Manning, executive director with the California Milk Processor Board (Berkeley, Calif.), opines that consumers have far more choices than simple white milk to gain dairy's benefits. “Hot chocolate, flavored milks and milk-based smoothies or licuados are just a few ways parents can get milk down their kids' gullets.”
The In Box
Eating in AmericaIn its annual report on the eating habits across the fruited plain, Parade magazine (New York) found that, while carbohydrate-cutting diets may be fading, consumers have learned important lessons from Atkins' inspirations. For that matter, more than a third (38%) of Americans say that “reducing carbs” is a permanent change in their eating habits.
Reflecting the faddish nature of the carb-culling trend, half of the respondents to “What American Eats” believe the carb craze will last “just until the next fad hits.” According to Parade, some 56% of Americans “never think about carbohydrates” when buying or eating food, 44% do not select food based on carbohydrate content (or lack thereof) and, in fact, 38% regard low-carb diets as unhealthy.
However, according to the weekly magazine, U.S. consumers are paying more attention to total fat and saturated fat while--at the same time--looking for 100% whole grains and high-fiber foods. Furthermore, the portion-controlling message appears to be reaching some consumers, as 45% have reduced portion sizes in their meals. Demonstrating that some trends do have staying power, 40% of consumers are eating low-fat foods, and 31% are reducing overall calories--despite the fact that only one in five Americans is dieting to lose weight, a decrease from the one in three in last year's survey.
How much do the dieters want to lose? According to the survey of 1,000 individuals between 18 and 65, the dieters want to rid themselves of an average of 38 pounds; one in three would like to drop 50 pounds or more.