Dietary
recommendations
Fat
intake
Food
choices
Consumer
knowledge
What
can I do?

Only 22% of people know how much of
their daily calories should come from fat

Only 22% of people know how much of<br />
their daily calories should come from fat
22% think
15-30% of
daily calories
13%
don't
know
6% think
more than
31%
60% think
less than
14%
Source: Consumer Perception and Insights on Fats and Fatty Acids: Knowledge on the Quality of Diet Fat. Diekman, C. (St. Louis, Mo.); Malcolm, K. (Warwick) Ann
Nutr Metab 2 26 009;54(suppl 1):25-32
Source
Key scientific facts  >  Consumer knowledge
‘You hear so much that
you don’t know what
to believe anymore’
‘Unsaturated,
saturated... one of the
two is good...’
‘It’s a matter
of terminology,
not of health’
‘Education and information.
I honestly don’t know what saturated fat and what unsaturated fat is and how
much saturated fat...
...on a daily basis is
good for me how much
unsaturated fat, I still don’t
know the difference. So for
me it is about education
and information.’

Real life
consumer quotes


Institute of Grocery Distribution, 2008 Saturated fat communication: enabling customers to make more informed choices. Interviews with customers in stores by Belgian journalist Luc Alloo

Consumer are confused about fats

  • People generally are not aware of the importance of the fat quality of the diet and the sources of different fats.
  • Consumers understand that fat should be eaten in moderation, mostly to control their weight.
  • However, they mostly reduce visible fats such as spreads, oils and butter, and forget about the hidden fats found in meat, cookies, cheese.
In 2009, the IEM conducted a consumer study in 16 countries investigating in total 6426 subjects. Results showed that the knowledge about fat is conflicted, including which fats have health benefits:
- 59% of respondents think fat should be avoided,
- 65% think a low fat diet is a healthy diet
- and 38% claim to avoid foods containing fat.

Respondents were aware of different types of fats but did not know which ones were healthier. Omegas have the greatest level of recognition but at the same time many people don’t realize they are fats.

Complex terminology remains an issue in later surveys. For example, despite an interest in choosing “good” fats over “bad” fats, most U.S. consumers have a hard time pinpointing the healthier choices. Only 32 percent of Americans recognize polyunsaturated fats as healthy, and 29 percent recognize monounsaturated fats accordingly.

Similar results were found in the IFIC survey in 2012. Many Americans still look to avoid dietary fat. Two out of three Americans (67%) say they try to eat as little fat as possible, even though a large majority understands that different fats can have different impacts on health. While 49 percent say they are trying to avoid trans fat, 32 percent also say they are trying to limit the more healthful mono- and polyunsaturated fats.

What messages do consumers understand?

Based on consumer research, the International Food Information Council recommended in 2007 the following messaging ideas:
  • “Fat is necessary for good health.” Some fat is necessary for good health. The types found in foods like nuts, seafood, and vegetable oils are better for you.
  • “Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats are healthier than saturated and trans fats.” When choosing foods with fats and oils, look for the “UN”: polyUNsaturated and monoUNsaturated fats rather than saturated and trans fats.
  • “Healthier fats keep your heart healthy.” Healthier fats keep you healthy: look for the UNsaturated types (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) found in foods like nuts, seafood, and vegetable oils used for cooking and in packaged products.
  • “For most people, a moderate fat diet means eating up to 65 grams of fat per day.” Most people can eat up to 65 grams of fat in day on a moderate fat diet. This means that favorite foods (like ice cream and steak) that have more fat CAN fit if you choose other foods that are low in fat (like fruits, vegetables and whole grains).
In addtion, new messaging concepts should be considered:
- Address the misperception by younger men that exercise means they can eat what ever they want with no repercussions.
- Address the misperception by women that fat is only a weight (calorie) issue rather than a heart health issue for them.

Consumer-friendly answers to frequently asked questions can be found in the FAQ section of this website.