It’s Not a Good Time to Give Up Junk Food

With the economy prompting consumers to reduce discretionary spending, you might expect junk food to fall off their shopping lists. But the psychological wear and tear of a recession also leads people to indulge in small-ticket guilty pleasures. Thus, 31 percent of respondents to an iVillage poll — 26 percent of men, 36 percent of women — admitted to eating more junk food in the past two years.

It’s not as if people are insensible to the multiple effects diet has on them — though that’s more true of women than of men. Forty percent of women, vs. 24 percent of men, believe diet can have a large effect on their skin. There were similar female-male gaps when it comes to the numbers who see diet having a large effect on their stress level (42 percent vs. 30 percent), mood (43 percent vs. 29 percent), looks (44 percent vs. 29 percent), and sleep pattern (40 percent vs. 31 percent). There was a smaller disparity when it comes to overall health, with 65 percent of women and 56 percent of men saying diet has a large effect on this.

Men have mixed feelings about the popular notion that women are the chief health officers of their households. Seven percent of the men agreed “strongly” and 44 percent “somewhat” that “Women are primarily in charge of their family’s health needs.” Thirty-two percent disagreed strongly and 17 percent somewhat. By contrast, 36 percent of women agreed strongly and 49 percent somewhat; 4 percent disagreed strongly and 11 percent somewhat.

Another part of the poll (conducted online in February) gave a sense of how important the Internet has become as a place where women gather and exchange health-related information. When asked to identify the first resource to which they would turn “to research a health question,” the women were more likely to cite “online” (49 percent) than “a doctor” (25 percent).