Survey Reveals Increased Interest in Healthy Diet & Exercise Habits

American adults are increasingly becoming more aware of the importance of proper diet and exercise habits. And recent survey results from the American Dietetic Association (ADA) show more folks are making an effort to eat more healthy foods and exercise regularly.

The ADA began conducting the nutrition surveys in 1991. The researchers organized respondents’ answers to various questions into three categories of overall attitudes toward maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise:

  • I’m Already Doing It—People who feel that maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise are very important; are concerned about diet, nutrition and overall fitness; and feel they are doing all they can to eat a healthy diet.
  • I Know I Should—People who feel that maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise are very important, but may not have taken significant actions to do all they can to eat a healthy diet.
  • Don’t Bother Me—People who do not feel diet and exercise are very important to them and are the least concerned with their overall nutrition and fitness.

The percentage of people in the “Don’t Bother Me” category has dropped significantly, especially from 2002 (32 percent) to 2008 (19 percent). “This is the first year the Don’t Bother Me group has represented less than one-third of the population,” said registered dietitian and ADA spokesperson Jeannie Gazzaniga-Moloo in a ScienceDaily report.

Gazzaniga-Moloo noted that the Don’t Bother Me segment had been as large as 40 percent in the mid-1990s. The 2008 survey results also showed two-thirds of respondents said diet and nutrition are “very important” to them personally (67 percent), and three-in-five people said physical activity is very important (61 percent). These responses continue the upward trend seen in every ADA survey since 1991.

Women were more likely than men to stress the importance of diet and physical activity. And younger adults were much less likely than older people to consider diet and nutrition very important.

The ADA surveys have shown a consistent increase by age groups toward the importance of physical activity. And people with a college education were more likely to say diet and nutrition are very important than people with a high school degree or less.

“The findings indicate there will likely always be a core group of consumers who remain in the Don’t Bother Me segment, so our challenge as registered dietitians is to move as many people as possible, through healthful eating messages and nutrition-related health care services, from I Know I Should—the people who ‘get it’—into I’m Already Doing It,” Gazzaniga-Moloo said.

The findings are published in the ADA’s nationwide consumer opinion survey, Nutrition and You: Trends 2008.