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CHICAGO -- It appears the newest craze in healthy eating is portion control. Consumers are increasingly aware of the importance of managing the size of the portions of food they eat, according to a new report by The NPD Group, a Chicago-based market research firm.
In its recent report, "Healthy Eating Strategies by Generation," NPD compiled a list of 30 healthy eating and lifestyle dimensions to determine which ones consumers of different generations associate with healthy eating. Out of the 30 attributes, eating smaller portions ranked 11th in importance among adult consumers across generations as a healthy eating characteristic.
Adult consumers ranked the top five characteristics of healthy eating and healthy lifestyles consistently: exercise regularly, eat well-balanced meals, eat all things in moderation, limit/avoid foods with saturated fat or cholesterol or trans fats, and drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
Eating smaller portions ranked seventh in importance among Generation X consumers, ages 35 to 45, as a healthy eating characteristic, which is the highest rank for the behavior among all generational groups. For Gen Y, ages 21 to 34, eating smaller portions ranked in the eighth position, and for younger boomers, ages 46 to 54, it ranked in the 12th position as a healthy eating characteristic.
The older age groups -- older boomers, silent generation and G.I. generation, ages 55 and older, with lesser appetites overall, had the lowest overall ranks for eating smaller portions. More women, especially overweight and obese women, tend to place a higher importance on eating smaller portions than men do.
According to the NPD report, 43 percent of the more than 5,000 adults surveyed indicated they ate smaller portions always or most of the time in the past year. An even greater percentage of adult consumers (57 percent) aspire to eat smaller portions in the coming year, suggesting this healthy eating strategy will become more important in the future.
Smaller portions and portion control are also important to consumers who want to eat more healthfully when they eat at restaurants and other foodservice outlets. Another recent NPD foodservice market research report entitled, "How Consumers Define Healthy Eating When They Dine Out," found that portion control and smaller portions rank third in importance for consumers looking for healthier option at restaurants. Fast-food consumers rank smaller portions and portion control second.