Healthy Habits Start With Education

Americans are living longer than ever before, but they aren’t necessarily living healthier lives. Consumers themselves aren’t entirely to blame, though. Many of them want to eat healthier and make healthier choices, but simply don’t know where to start.

The 2018 IFIC Food and Health Survey found that a whopping 80% of surveyed consumers are confused by all the conflicting information about what foods to eat. This confusion is only exacerbated by the fact that much of the attention and marketing surrounding healthy eating habits can be overwhelming, hard to understand, unspecific, and sometimes even conflicting. Bottom line: This confusion is making consumers doubt their choices and, as a result, making a healthy lifestyle change even more challenging.

Healthy brands are in part responsible for this confusion. At the recent Grocery Manufacturers Association Science Forum in Washington, DC, Rutgers nutritional sciences professor Carol Byrd-Bredbenner suggested that it’s no longer enough for brands to simply offer healthy options, it’s also up to them to make sure consumers are well-educated on the subject.

If brands and public health advocates want to change how consumers behave, they must give them specific calls to action that are clear and simple. Poor instruction is where we really fall down a lot with our communication. We forget to give them clear personal benefit, or the instructions are vague and unrealistic.

In addition to making information accessible, Bredbenner also suggests that brands do so in a way that provides consumers with context, offers a personalized message, and includes a call to action. We have been trumpeting the value of trusted health professionals as a source for this type of contextual nutrition education for years. Consumers want to make healthier choices, and if you want your brand to be one of those choices, the requirements now include helping consumers navigate the nutritional landscape with trust, credibility, and actionable information.