Although the number of people who consider they have a healthy diet has gone up 5% since last year, the total proportion remains low at just 34%.
The findings come from The 2015 Grocery Eye report, an annual study by market research firm Future Thinking. The online survey, now in its second year, received feedback from over 2,000 consumers (70% of whom were female) in January and February, in a bid to determine consumption and behaviour trends.
It revealed that consumers associated cutting back on sugar more with healthy eating than with dieting. So those seeking to eat more healthily said eating more fruit and vegetables and reducing their sugar intake were important, while those wanting to specifically lose weight said they were cutting calories and fat from their diet.
When buying ‘healthy’ food, a third of people said they use fat content as the most important indicator, followed by sugar (22%) and calories (20%).
Those surveyed thought healthy eating was more about choosing foods from particular groups such as fruit, vegetables and wholegrains, rather than opting for healthier versions of food and drink. And 65% said price was still a barrier to healthy eating as healthier food was considered more expensive than eating less healthy foods. Fifty-two per cent said that if healthy food was cheaper, it would encourage them to eat more of it. But 33% put the onus on manufacturers, saying they should cut the fat, salt and sugar content to make their existing products healthier.
As for the diets of future generations, 59% cent of respondents said they were responsible for encouraging healthy eating among children; 10% said other family members were. Meanwhile, 5% thought children themselves were responsible, 4% said the government; 3% healthcare professionals, 3% supermarkets, and 2% manufacturers.
The survey also found that some perceptions about sugar content were wrong, such as the belief that cereal/health bars had less sugar than doughnuts. And the use of artificial sweeteners is still an issue – the survey revealed that people would rather see sugar levels reduced than artificial sweeteners used.