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Healthy eating becoming increasingly important to Canadians: Study

Nearly half of Canadians feel guilty when they eat foods they consider unhealthy

The rise of superfoods and holistic health trends suggests Canadians are taking a new approach toward health, according to a new research study from Mintel. The Attitudes Toward Healthy Eating 2017 study finds 84% of Canadian consumers believe what they eat impacts their physical health, with nearly two-thirds (63%) agreeing it also affects their emotional wellbeing.

Among the study’s other findings:

  •  72% of men try to eat healthy, compared with 80% of women. The report says guilt is “eating away” at women: “The association of food with guilt is a slippery slope, as equating foods with ‘good’ or ‘bad’ can make the person themselves feel they are good or bad,” the study says. “This has the potential to tax a woman’s self-esteem”;

  • Nearly half (49%) of Canadians say they feel guilty when they eat foods they don’t consider healthy. This number rises to 59% among women under 55, and 60% among mothers;

  • About 45% of Canadians are interested in trying the latest foods that claim to boost health, such as chia seeds or spirulina, while 35% try to include super-food ingredients such as kale, broccoli and quinoa in their meals. About 40% conduct online research to learn which foods to eat to address a specific need, such as improving skin or controlling acid reflux;

  • Just one-quarter (27%) of respondents say they are more likely to buy a food item boasting a health claim on the package than a similar food without one, with the study claiming that higher food cost and a lack of trust in these claim are a key factor. The study found that just 20% of consumers trust on-pack health claims;

  • Lifestyle is a barrier for adopting healthier eating habits among both 18-34 year-olds and parents. For the former, a higher frequency of social outings means making choices “on the go,” suggesting opportunities for snack makers to target this particular audience. The study says meal kits can represent a “relatively untapped” opportunity for reaching time-strapped parents by minimizing both the prep work and pre-planning work of cooking.

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