Many Americans Not Interested in Healthy Eating When Dining Out

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2nd September 2014 10:44 - Health

Almost one quarter (24%) of American diners are not interested in eating healthily when they go out for a meal because they view dining out as a treat, research has shown.

One in four (24%) respondents admitted they do glance at healthy options when browsing restaurant menus, however, more often than not, they still opt for the unhealthy choice.

When asked what menu traits grabbed their attention for healthy meal options, 9% said gluten-free choices denoted healthy - 10% down on last year’s figure (19%) - compared to the almost two fifths (39%) who said meals with higher fruit and vegetable content came across as healthy.

Elsewhere, 37% believed menu items with low calorie counts equated to a healthy meal, while just over one third (34%) thought nosh with less sodium was better for their health.

Almost two fifths (38%) of the survey’s respondents agreed that if a healthy menu item sounded tasty in the menu description, they were more likely to purchase it.

Furthermore, around one in three (27%) said they preferred to order healthy meals that included ingredients they were familiar with.

Katrina Fajardo, foodservice analyst at Mintel, said:“For consumers who are often on the fence for healthy or indulgent eating, familiarity can help ease them into healthier choices, rather than alienating them with superfoods they have not heard of or have a reputation for lackluster taste.”

Adding: “One of the possible reasons for consumers’ indecisiveness on healthy foods in foodservice is the fact that foodservice still has the stigma of being unhealthy, regardless of what is ordered. As a result of the numerous exposés showing the real caloric counts in salads, sandwiches, and other menu items deemed as ‘healthy,’ consumers are conflicted with the idea that a restaurant could offer real, healthy items.”

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