Eating Healthy, or Maybe Imagining They Are

Here’s why marketers of healthy foods have a tough row to hoe in attracting new customers: A majority of consumers think they already eat right, whether they really do or not.

In Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index polling conducted throughout 2009, 66 percent of respondents said they “ate healthy all day.” The number was even higher (at 84 percent) among the poll’s 65-and-older contingent, while it was lowest (54 percent) among the 18-29-year-olds.

Another part of the polling gives reason to suspect some people were rating their eating habits more favorably than the facts warrant. Respondents were asked to say how many days in the previous week they’d eaten five or more servings of fruits and vegetables. Fifty-six percent (i.e., fewer than the number claiming to be “all day” healthy eaters) said they had done so on four or more days — a pretty minimal marker for healthy eating in general.

People who eat fewer than the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables don’t blame it on money: 92 percent said it’s “easy to get affordable fresh fruits and vegetables” where they live.