ADA Survey Examines Glimpse into Americans' Commitment to Diet, Exercise

Dorian Martin Health Guide
  • So as a society, what is the status of Americans’ commitment to a healthy diet? The American Dietetic Association (ADA) recently released the results from its latest survey that provides a glimpse into our eating habits. A total of 754 people age of 18 and older responded to the survey. The majority of this group was between the ages of 35 and 54. ADA has conducted this survey every 3-5 years since 1991.

    ADA researchers classified responses into three groups. These groups are:

    • I’m already doing it. This group already tries to make healthy food choices and incorporates exercise into their daily routine. This group was mostly female and they considered nutrition to be very important. This group often is living with someone who is on a diet for medical reasons and also is more apt to use magazines to learn about nutrition.
    • I know I should. This group, which was comprised primarily of people age 35-54, realizes they should make exercise and a healthy diet a priority, but fall off the bandwagon on occasion. Members of this group, who often live in households with four other people, would like practical tips to eat a more nutritious diet. This group is more apt to understand the benefits of eating organically and to use the internet and magazines to learn about nutrition.
    • Don’t bother me. This group, which is primarily made up of young males, is not interested in these topics. These respondents had less than a college education and were least likely to be married or living with a partner.

    Interestingly, ADA put together a graph that gave a longitudinal view of the three groups’ attitudes. The “I’m already doing it” group has increased from about 25% of respondents in 1991 to more than 40% in 2011. The “I know I should” group has remained at just slightly under 40% over the period of time, with some variation. The “don’t bother me” has decreased from about 35% of respondents in 1991 to 20% in 2011.

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    The ADA’s survey also looked longitudinally at consumer’s attitudes and behaviors concerning nutrition and exercise. The findings were:

    • “Diet and nutrition are very important to me personally.” – This statement has remained steadily high and has increased over time. In 1991, slightly less than 80% agreed with the statement; by 2011, almost 90% were in agreement.
    • “Exercise and physical activity are very important to me personally.” – This statement was first asked of participants in 1995. At that point, about 80% agreed with the statement. By 2011, slightly less than 90% were in agreement.
    • “Very careful to select foods to achieve balanced nutrition and healthy diet.” – There’s been modest growth in this area. In 1991, slightly more than 70% agreed with the statement; by 2011, that rate had grown only a few percentage points.
    • “Make a very conscious effort to regularly get exercise and physical activity.” Fewer than 70% responded affirmatively when this question was first asked in 1995. By 2011, more than 70% said they were trying to get regular physical activity.

    There’s more data from this survey that I’ll share in my next post. But the results thus far seem to indicate a disconnection between what we say we’re going to do and what we’re actually doing as far as exercise and diet. And to be truthful, I can see where this happens. My diet tends to be pretty healthy, but I do find it fairly easy to fall off the exercise bandwagon because of whatever reason seems easiest to throw out instead of breaking a sweat. So I’ll hope you’ll join me in recommitting to eating healthily and exercising back on your daily schedule.

Published On: October 07, 2011