The growing obesity epidemic in the US has created a sense of urgency to act among legislators and governing industry bodies, but consumers aren’t biting

However, according to Mintel’s recently published report on American eating habits, a significant gap exists between the number of adults who are dieting and those who should be dieting. According to Mintel’s findings, only 25% of Americans affirm that they are currently dieting and only slightly more say they are doing so most of the time. With nearly three out of five adults considered overweight or obese, there is a 34 percentage point difference between those who are overweight and need to diet and those who are currently dieting.

Despite the epidemic rates of obesity and the weight loss needs of the majority of Americans, over 60% eat the foods they like, regardless of calorie count. Less than one fifth normally count calories. Consistent with a weight gain outcome, nearly half of respondents often feel they overeat. Clearly, Americans are falling short in their weight control efforts, resulting in the increasing rates of obesity and other health problems. Over half of Americans note the calorie and total fat content of prepackaged foods in purchase consideration, while only 12% consider trans fat content. However, as educational efforts increase and trans fat content begins to appear on the Nutritional Facts panel, consumer interest and concern should increase.

In addition, the research shows that respondents have made convenience meals a regular part of their diet. For example, almost a third report eating in a fastfood or other restaurant at least three times in the previous week. Each convenience meal form, including “only heat,” “frozen,” “ready to eat,” and “add meat then heat,” was cited by at least 10% of respondents as a meal source at least three times in the previous week.

To find out more about the new Mintel report on US Eating Habits, click here.