NPD study reveals that nutrition and healthy eating habits become top priorities for aging Canadians
- 72% of Canadians 65 and older s say nutrition is important when planning meals, compared to 57% of those ages 18 to 34
- As Canadians age, they are more likely to be on a diet, with 14% of people ages 46 to 64 on a diet by choice and 7% on a diet prescribed by a doctor
- 44% of Canadians 65 and older follow Canada’s Food Guide, compared to 21% of people ages 18 to 34
TORONTO, December 13, 2011 – Historically the drivers of well-established trends, the baby boomer generation is now redefining the aging process with a shift to healthy eating. According to the annual Eating Patterns in Canada (EPIC) study by leading market research company The NPD Group, the boomer generation is most concerned about nutrition when planning a meal, more so than any other age demographic in Canada.
Two-thirds of Canadians 65 years of age and older (72 per cent) say that nutrition is as important as taste when planning a meal. This compares to 57 per cent of people ages 18 to 34 and 62 per cent of those 35 to 44 who believe nutrition is an important factor. Further, as Canadians age, fruit and vegetables become more prominent in their diets as the desire for meat and protein alternatives begins to fade.
“The baby boomer generation represents the largest age group in Canada and, in terms of numbers alone, they have a tremendous influence on Canadian market trends,” said Joel Gregoire, food and beverage industry analyst, The NPD Group. “As this population ages, their eating behaviours begin to change, giving food and beverage companies the opportunity to capitalize on this shift to a healthier lifestyle.”
Driving this adoption of healthy eating habits is the difficult struggle with weight plaguing aging Canadians. In fact, older Canadians struggle with weight gain the most, with 63 per cent of people ages 45-64 overweight or obese compared to 51 per cent of those 18 to 44, leading to increased chances of developing health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol.
To reach and maintain a healthy weight, baby boomers are not only becoming more selective in the foods they eat, but are becoming much more disciplined in consuming three balanced meals a day. Of key concern to boomers are the ingredients in the foods they are being served. Almost three quarters (74 per cent) of those 65 years of age and older believe people should be cautious when serving foods with saturated fat, while over two thirds (68 per cent) are concerned with trans fats and two thirds (71 per cent) are concerned with salt or sodium. In addition, Canadians ages 46 to 65 seek healthy options containing more fibre (62 per cent), antioxidants (37 per cent) and omega 3 fatty acids (35 per cent).
“Canadians are generally concerned about the effects of trans and saturated fats, regardless of age, but this becomes more prevalent as they get older,” continued Gregoire. “As baby boomers become more preoccupied with disease prevention and overall wellness, they embrace healthier lifestyles leading to an increased demand for healthy food options.”
To help them make smart food choices, Canadians are increasingly looking to special labels on the packaging. The top three sought-after special labels on foods are low fat, whole grain and trans fat free, while the top three on beverages are low fat, light/ lite/ diet and vitamins added.
Further helping the boomer generation make balanced food choices is Canada’s Food Guide. While the overall percentage of Canadians living by the Food Guide is declining, those 65 years of age and older are more likely to follow it. In 2011, just over one quarter of Canadians (28 per cent) claimed to adhere to its guidelines, compared to 39 per cent in 2003. However, 44 per cent of Canadians 65 years and older presently embrace the trusted eating recommendations in Canada’s official guide of nutritional standards.