Fat Fuels Consumer Diet Choices

Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition Survey Celebrates 20 Years with Positive Soy and Health Findings

Sep 19, 2013, 16:17 ET from United Soybean Board

ST. LOUIS, Sept. 19, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Soy offers a positive solution to the nutrition trend consumers most watch - the fat content of their diet. The United Soybean Board's (USB) 20th annual Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition survey confirms consumers are paying attention. In fact, 6 in 10 consumers are interested in what type of oil is used in restaurant food preparation. And, half said they would be more likely to eat in a restaurant that uses oils with lower trans or saturated fat.

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"Consumers care about what they put in their bodies," said Amy Hendel, registered physician assistant (R-PA) and consultant to USB. "They are increasingly aware of fat content and use it to steer dietary choices." Soybean oils and soy foods are one area consumers target to affect their fat intake. They are increasingly aware of how soy can benefit the day-to-day meal choices for themselves and their families.

Fourteen percent of consumers surveyed were aware that most of the cooking oil available on grocery shelves labeled "vegetable oil" is 100 percent soybean oil, up from 10 percent in 2012. When given this new information, 40 percent said vegetable oil is healthier than they thought. About a third (34 percent) said they would be more likely to purchase vegetable oil if it was labeled as soybean oil.

Consumers are just as involved with oils used at home. "Soybean oil, commonly labeled vegetable oil, is low in saturated fat, has zero trans fat and is high in poly- and monounsaturated fats," Hendel explained. "It is crucial to understand the nutritional value of the products you purchase for your family at the grocery store."   

Soy Keeps its Reputation as a Healthy, Low-Fat Food
With 86 percent of consumers concerned about the nutritional content of the food they eat, soy fits well into efforts to eat better. Seventy-five percent of consumers rated soy products as healthy. Nearly half of those aware of soy's health benefits said they look for products specifically because they contain soy.

Consumers continue to seek out soy for specific health concerns. Nineteen percent of consumers strongly agreed that consuming soy-based foods can play a role in reducing obesity, up from 15 percent in 2012. Additionally, 39 percent of consumers (up from 36 percent in 2012) are aware of the US Food and Drug Administration claim that consuming 25 grams of soy a day may reduce coronary heart disease.

Additional Survey Findings
Consumers understand what a vital role diet plays in a range of health conditions, and therefore it continues to remain a top concern. Here are additional insights gained through this year's survey:

  • Nearly half of consumers surveyed (48 percent) cited that the most effective strategy for improving overall health is to follow a moderate-fat diet, choosing "good fats" over "bad fats," on par with the last few years.
  • Over a third of consumers (35 percent) say they would order soy products at restaurants if available; specifically soy milk and veggie burgers.
  • Twenty-eight percent of consumers say they eat soy at least once a week or more.
  • The majority of consumers say instilling healthy eating habits (63 percent), reducing obesity (59 percent) and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption (57 percent) are the most important issues when it comes to childhood nutrition.
  • Half of the respondents familiar with biotechnology view its role in food production "very" (17 percent) or "somewhat" positively (31 percent).

Soy Continues to Benefit Consumers
Results from this year's study reinforce the trend to positively change eating habits due to health and wellness concerns, specifically adding soy to the diet. Consumers' perceived healthiness of soy has increased eight percentage points over the last 15 years. In addition, the percentage of Americans who consume soyfoods or soy beverages once a month or more has increased from 30 percent in 2006 to 42 percent in 2013.

About the Study
USB's 20th annual Consumer Attitudes about Nutrition study was conducted by an independent research firm. The study includes 1,000 random online surveys conducted in February 2013, providing a sample that is consistent with the total U.S. population. The study's margin of error is +/- 1.9 to 3.1 percent, with a confidence interval of 95 percent.

About USB
The 69 farmer-directors of USB oversee the investments of the soy checkoff to maximize profit opportunities for all U.S. soybean farmers. These volunteers invest and leverage checkoff funds to increase the value of U.S. soy meal and oil, to ensure U.S. soybean farmers and their customers have the freedom and infrastructure to operate, and to meet the needs of U.S. soy's customers. As stipulated in the federal Soybean Promotion, Research and Consumer Information Act, the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service has oversight responsibilities for USB and the soy checkoff.

For more information on the United Soybean Board, visit us at www.UnitedSoybean.org or www.soyconnection.com.

Additional Resources:

SOURCE United Soybean Board