The factors that affect Americans’ food choices

WASHINGTON — Do you live to eat or do you eat to live? The answer to that question may help explain what food choices you make.

Sally Squires, who writes the Lean Plate Club Blog, says more Americans are becoming better informed and inquisitive about the food they eat and how it’s produced.

She points to a recent survey from the Institute of Food Technologists that shows Americans have a rising fear of chemicals and artificial ingredients in food. Also, the findings show that many people now realize that food and nutrition can be a great way to prevent or treat a number of health conditions.

“Chemical consciousness means a lot to people,” Squires said. “It is definitely an emerging factor in food choices along with ‘preservative-free’ and ‘trans fat-free’ and ‘no artificial ingredients,'” she added.

Social impact and sustainability are also important to food shoppers and surveys show it’s not just one group of Americans leading the charge. Squires said 75 percent of millennials want healthier food and 64 percent of people 70 and older feel the same way.

In addition, there’s a lot of diversity in the ways people are trying to achieve healthier eating.

“More Americans are going on their own nutrition path these days with fasting and detox regimens and vegetarian or vegan options,” Squires said. “And I was surprised to see that 71 percent of Americans say they regularly or occasionally prepare a meatless meal.”

But she said convenience, price and ultimately taste top the list of what determines the food choices consumers make.

Squires added that there is a lot of snacking occurring in place of eating full meals — with nearly half of the foods we eat being consumed while en route to someplace.

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