MORE than half of those responding to the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation's 2013 "Food & Health Survey" indicated that they would rather lose $1,000 than gain an additional 20 lb. — 56% versus 35% (Figure 1).
The survey found that women were more likely than men to prefer to lose the money (63% versus 48%).
Not surprisingly, as an individual's income increased, so did their likelihood to agree with the statement — 47% of individuals who make less than $35,000 per year versus 68% of those who make more than $75,000 per year.
Other findings of this year's IFIC survey included:
* Taste continued to be the most important factor driving consumers' decisions to buy foods and beverages, with 89% rating the impact of taste as high, versus 71% who listed "price," 64% who chose "healthfulness," 56% who chose "convenience" and 36% who picked "sustainability."
Those numbers are largely consistent with the findings of the 2012 survey; however, healthfulness and convenience have increased steadily since the initial survey in 2006.
Sustainability appeared to have the greatest influence among older consumers and women. Convenience, on the other hand, was largely an influencer for younger consumers.
* People's willingness to believe new information about food and health was affected most by their own research, with 91% saying it has at least some impact. That number fell to 87% who are affected by hearing the information from friends or family members, 84% who hear it from someone who has an advanced degree in health or nutrition, 70% who hear it in the news (television, radio, newspaper or internet) and just 29% who see the information on social media.
* Health professionals (doctors, nurses and dietitians) were perceived to be the most trustworthy sources of accurate food safety information (93%). This compared with friends and family members at 75%, the government at 64% and food manufacturers at 44%.
* At least three-fourths of respondents said they give a lot of thought to chemicals (40%), foodborne illnesses (34%), pesticides (33%), animal antibiotics (25%) and undeclared allergens (16%) in their food. Respondents placed more faith in the safety of foods produced or grown in the U.S. than in imported foods (53% versus 48%).
* The majority of respondents (78%) agreed that they would rather hear what they should eat than what they should not eat, preferring positive messages about how to have a healthful diet (Figure 2).
Ninety-six percent of respondents said they have given a little or a lot of thought to the healthfulness of foods and beverages. This was particularly true for women and college graduates.
* In the case of calories, 38% indicated that they often or always think about the number of calories they consume. Thirty percent of respondents said all sources of calories were equally at fault for causing weight gain, while 21% specifically blamed sugars, 19% blamed carbohydrates and 16% blamed fats. Only 1% blamed protein for weight gain.
* Seventy percent indicated that they were somewhat or very confident in the safety of the U.S. food supply, while 29% said they were not too confident or not at all confident.
While this is still a large majority of the U.S. population, it indicates a significant decrease from the 2012 IFIC survey, when 78% were somewhat or very confident and 18% were not too confident or not at all confident.
* The vast majority of respondents (93%) agreed strongly or somewhat that they would prefer that ingredient lists use the common name of ingredients rather than the scientific name.
* The majority of respondents (81%) indicated that they believe minimally processed foods can be healthful, up 14% from the 2012 study.
The online survey was fielded by Mathew Greenwald & Associates of Washington, D.C., April 11-22, and involved 1,006 Americans ages 18-80. Results were weighted to match the U.S. Census based on age, education, gender, race/ethnicity and region to be nationally reflective.