As most Americans confess to feeling stressed over the past six months, peoples’ food and beverage choices have been intimately connected with their mental and emotional well-being, we learn from the 2023 Food & Health Survey from the International Food Information Council (IFIC).
For this year’s study, IFIC commissioned Greenwald Research to conduct 1,022 interviews with adults between 18 and 80 years of age in April 2023. The research explored consumers’ perspectives on healthy food, the cost of food, approaches to self-care through food consumption, the growing role of social media in the food system, and the influence of sustainability on peoples’ food-views.
Consumers continue their search for healthy or healthier foods as we’ve faced inflation on food and beverage costs. Healthfulness still remains a key factor in food shopping for 3 in five U.S. consumers. most of whom are also looking for greater convenience.
What is “healthy” in the eyes of consumers? That translates into fresh food, foods low in sugar (a rising trait), protein, and the label of “natural.”
In this year’s annual IFIC food study, mental health and stress play leading roles in consumers’ lives, embedded into peoples’ food-lives.
Three in four people said that food consumption impacted their mental or emotional state. And our mental and emotional well-being in turn impacts peoples’ food and beverage consumption among 61% of us.
Overall, 3 in 5 U.S. consumers confess to being somewhat or very stressed.
While younger people were more likely to say they were stressed compared with older folks, 60% self-report stress across the generati0ns and 51% of people say that stress has a deleterious impact on their healthy food and beverage consumptions.
Still 56^ of Gen X and 42% of Boomers reported feeling stressed.
One-half of consumers were following a specific eating pattern or diet in the 2023, about the same percentage of people as in 2022 and significantly more consumers than the 39% following a diet in 2021.
The most common eating styles followed included high protein *for 18%), mindful eating (17%), counting calories (12%), clean eating (12%), and intermittent fasting (for 12%).
The main benefits consumers sought from food & bev selection were to enjoy greater energy and less fatigue, lose or maintain weight, age healthfully, bolster digestive/gut health, optimize heart and cardiovascular health, improve sleep, muscle strength, and brain function.
Emotional health and immune health tied with 24% of consumers also seeking these benefits.
Health Populi’s Hot Points: The top lines shown on the last bar chart tell us that losing weight, improving our physical appearance, and bolstering energy are gaining increasing interest among U.S. consumers when it comes to food and beverage consumption. Peoples’ return-to-work (RTW), “showing up” in public places and traveling again, are motivating consumers to continue to pay attention to weight loss as well as pay more attention to their physical appearance.
Restoring and gaining energy, too, is key to boosting resilience and getting back into the pre-pandemic/post-pandemic swing of things for many people pivoting to a more normalized if re-defined life rhythm. Furthermore, protecting long-term health and future health conditions is also a priority among 33% of consumers.
Consider the food-engaged folks identified in this study as those whose homes are also morphing into self-care sites for health, medical care, and well-being. Increasingly, consumers are looking to food and beverages as components of health-enhancing lives beyond basic nutritional needs. Thanks to IFIC for this annual deep-dive into consumers’ views on food and, increasingly, health — embodied in body as well as in mind.