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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 01/ 4/2011

Consumer Reports offers snapshot of American eating habits

By Jennifer LaRue Huget

Consumer Reports this morning published the results of its late-2010 survey of Americans' eating and exercise habits. While there's nothing too earth-shattering in the findings, the report did turn up a few interesting discrepancies between what we say and what we really eat.

The sampling of 1,234 people who were interviewed by phone in November -- during the holiday season, which CR points out may have skewed people's self-reported behaviors -- revealed the following tidbits:

  • Fifteen percent of respondents said they were on a diet, while another 46 percent said they were either careful or strict about their food intake but not on a formal diet. Forty percent said they pretty much just ate what they wanted.
  • Forty-four percent said they kept their weight down without dieting, and 16 percent were successful at losing weight and keeping it off. But 20 percent had lost weight but tended to gain it back.
  • Only 21 percent said they weighed themselves daily or on most days, and just 15 percent reported they counted calories daily or on most days.
  • More than half of respondents said that their diet over the past year was "somewhat healthy," while about a third rated their diet as very healthy. Just 10 percent called their diets not very healthy or not healthy at all.
  • Nearly 60 percent said they consume five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day or most days. The most common reason for not eating more veggies was that the respondents (66 percent of them) were satisfied with the amount they ate, thank you very much. While 14 percent said they don't eat more vegetables because they are too expensive, the second most common reason for skimping on the veggies was that they're hard to store or go bad quickly.
  • Those who rated their diet as healthy did in fact eat more healthfully compared with others surveyed, but most didn't consistently avoid foods deemed unhealthful such as sugar- sweetened drinks and breakfast meats.
  • About 40 percent reported being somewhat overweight; another 11 percent said they are very overweight or obese. Thirty-five percent of respondents had BMIs (calculated from self-reported measures of height and weight) between 20 and 24 (considered a healthy weight), while 36 percent fell between 25 and 29 (overweight but not obese), and about 20 percent had BMIs of more than 30. (According to the CDC, about 34 percent of Americans are obese -- with BMIs higher than 30 -- and 68 percent are either overweight or obese, with BMIs higher than 25.)

So what does all this add up to? Looks as though a lot of us are trying to eat healthfully, but not everyone is sweating the details. That's especially interesting as we wait for the new Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010 to be released (soon, we hope!). Many eyes will be watching to see what those guidelines recommend we Americans eat, and just as many eyes will be watching to see if Americans actually pay them any heed.

By Jennifer LaRue Huget  | January 4, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Dietary Guidelines, Nutrition and Fitness, Obesity  
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Posted by: hollytores | January 5, 2011 2:42 AM | Report abuse

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