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Most U.S. Women Want to Be Healthier. How Can You Help Them Achieve This Goal?

Despite good intentions and a deepening understanding of nutrition and wellness, I know I’m not as healthy as I could be. As it turns out, I’m not alone. According to a new report published by Delicious Living and iVillage, most women in the United States see themselves as being only “somewhat” healthy—or worse.

Delicious Living magazine“Although it may not be literally true that these women are ‘unhealthy,’ it is certain that the vast majority see room for improvement,” write the authors of the report, For Women, Healthy Is Not What You Think. “Thus, healthy food is not only intended to help maintain health; it needs to move them ‘in the right direction’ relative to their current states. This is true of younger women as well as older women."

Published in April, the report is based on the findings from a survey of nearly 5,000 U.S. consumers—91% of them women—conducted in February 2010. The survey was designed to gauge the health attitudes, beliefs, priorities and purchasing behavior of U.S. women of all ages. From this research emerged many interesting findings about how female consumers define health and wellness; what drives them to pursue healthier choices at different points in their lives; and how these definitions and motivations affect their interpretations of label claims and ingredient attributes and purchases of specific products and brands.

Not surprisingly, U.S. women view consuming healthy food as the most important way they can support their own health and the health of their families. As a result, the majority of women say they avoid food products that contain trans fats, saturated fats, high fructose corn syrup and MSG. A smaller, but still significant, percentage of women say they avoid genetically modified foods. When evaluating label claims, the survey found that products labeled as “high fiber” are most sought out by women, followed by “reduced fat or fat free” and “low sodium.” These three claims and numerous others were ranked higher than both “organic” and “natural” by women of all ages in the survey.

Although I learned a great deal about how age and health conditions affect the beliefs, attitudes and behaviors of U.S. women from reading For Women, Healthy Is Not What You Think, perhaps the most eye-opening findings from the report had to do with perceptions surrounding natural and organic. For example, 67% of the survey respondents said they believe “natural foods are better for me,” while only 57% reported believing that “organic foods are better for me.” That said, those women who purchase organic products are more active and informed consumers and generally feel better about their health than other consumers.

Nutrition Business Journal will present a deeper dive into this and other consumer research related to nutrition, health and wellness, natural & organic products, and dietary supplements in our September 2010 issue. If you’re not yet an NBJ subscriber, visit our website to learn more.

You can also purchase or read the table of contents and executive summary of For Women, Healthy Is Not What You Think via the NBJ site.

Related NBJ links:

March 2010: Organic Foods, Beverages and Personal Care

2009 Healthy Kids’ Market Report: Breaking the Entry Barrier

Marketing to Busy Moms Requires an Integrated Approach

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