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Diet Advice: Consumers Respond

A recent survey by the Food Marketing Institute and Prevention magazine shows that many Americans consider themselves health conscious, but almost as many say they are frustrated by conflicting advice about good nutrition.

More than half of those questioned say they are tired of experts telling them what foods are good or bad for them. Ed Slaughter of Prevention explained that confused shoppers are overloaded with expert advice and are becoming more self- reliant when selecting foods.

The report says most people surveyed first considered fat, then calories. Others mentioned sugar and chemical additives.

The study shows that 83 percent of consumers believe nutrition is more important than cost, but 58 percent think nutritious foods are more expensive.

Of those who have changed their eating habits, more than half said they are trying to cut fat. A quarter are increasing the number of fruits and vegetables they consume, while 15 percent are eating less meat. Other steps mentioned were reducing sugar, salt and cholesterol.

Dr. David Satcher of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention agreed that nutrition advice is confusing, but he stated that some counsel is consistent.

“Obesity is not good for your health,” he said. “It increases the risk of diabetes, hypertension, heart disease. Most Americans consume diets that are too high in fat and need to reduce the fat content. Thirdly, most Americans need to increase the fruits and vegetables in their diet.”

The average American diet should contain no more than 30 percent fats and 10 percent saturated fats, Satcher said.

The CDC is particularly concerned about obesity among youth, which has more than doubled over the past 30 years, according to Satcher. People ranging in age from 2 to 18 eat much more fat than recommended by the CDC.

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