"People don't have any concept of how many calories they should have in their diet in a day," says Sue Borra, president of the foundation. So starts USA Today coverage of the 2006 IFIC Food & Health Survey.
In fact, after how many years of education efforts, the report states:
Nine out of ten consumers are unable to provide an accurate estimate of their recommended daily caloric intake, nearly half would not even guess, and only one in three understands that a “calorie is a calorie.”
The report also documents continued confusion over the role of dietary fats and carbohydrates and only 1/3 believe that the nutrition information they receive is consistent.
In an effort to improve their health, more than half of consumers say they are making dietary changes. The most common dietary changes include consuming less of specific types of foods, attempting to manage portions, and reducing caloric intake. Two-thirds of consumers are trying to increase consumption of fiber and whole grains.
So, nutrition education has yet to get people to 'know their caloric number,' confusion still reigns and a majority are still trying to change their behaviors anyway. Maybe it's time to start using these quantitative surveys to begin to understand what's working by focusing attention on the positive deviants - those folks, despite all the obstacles and impediments (NOT barriers) manage to get it right. There's more to learn from them than from the repetitive types of information this and other surveys provide.
If there's truly a war on obesity, maybe it's time for new strategies and not just adjustments in tactics.