One dreads to think what shape Americans would be in if they weren’t eating what they view as a healthy diet. Despite epidemic levels of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and other maladies related to diet, a new Harris Interactive poll found 64 percent of adults describing themselves as “healthy eaters.” Moreover, 45 percent claimed to be following some sort of health-conscious diet, nearly matching the sum of those who eat “whatever I feel like eating” (35 percent) and those who eat a “meat and potatoes” diet (12 percent). Among respondents age 55-plus, 75 percent classified themselves as healthy eaters. The 18-to-34 age bracket was the only one in which fewer than half the respondents (47 percent) said they’re healthy eaters. But a healthy eater at dinnertime isn’t necessarily a healthy eater at lunch, let alone at snack time. And despite all the talk of breakfast as the most important meal of the day, it isn’t the healthiest one for many consumers (see chart below). People in the 35-44 age bracket were the most likely to say they try to stick with healthy foods at snack times. For instance, 25 percent of them said they try to do so when it comes to evening snacks, vs. 13 percent of the 18-34s, 13 percent of the 45-54s and 16 percent of those 55 and older. Sounds like there’s an opportunity for enterprising packaged-goods companies to target this age group with treats that won’t send them to early graves.
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