Released: January 2008
Download the complete report in PDF (797KB).
The choices we make every day of what to eat and how much physical activity to get play a vital role in how long we live, how much energy we have, and how healthy we are. We live in a time of widespread availability of food options and choices. More so than ever, Americans need good advice to make informed decisions about their diets. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is committed to encouraging and helping the public adopt long-lasting, healthy lifestyles. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans (Dietary Guidelines) provide the science-based information we need to make smart choices from every food group, get the most nutrition out of the calories we consume and find a balance between eating and physical activity.
The Health and Diet Survey: Dietary Guidelines Supplement tracks national change of Americans' attitudes, awareness, knowledge, and behavior regarding various elements of nutrition and physical activity. The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) collaborated with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to leverage FDA's on-going household survey mechanism and include information based on the key recommendations from the Dietary Guidelines. HHS initiated the baseline survey just prior to the launch of the Sixth Edition, Dietary Guidelines for Americans in January, 2005, and repeated the survey a year later.
The survey findings indicate that although Americans believe healthy eating habits are important, sometimes knowledge and good intentions do not add up to making better choices and changing behavior. Not surprising, there are differences in how Americans view their health and what is important to them related to their gender, age and education. The survey also inquired where Americans turn for nutrition information, how reliable they consider Federal government nutrition information, how easy they think it is to access the information, and their familiarity with specific government nutrition offerings such as the Dietary Guidelines.
The information from the Dietary Guidelines provides a blueprint for action. However, putting knowledge into practice can be challenging and changing behavior is usually a long-term proposition. Future fielding of this survey will help us monitor American eating habits and lifestyle choices over time, recognizing that adopting more healthy, active lifestyles will take a concerted effort - from the Federal government to health experts to the food and agriculture sectors to business leaders, state and local governments, scientists and researchers, and teachers and parents and individuals.
We hope you find this information helpful and encourage all of us to consider the role we can play to reinforce that developing healthy habits early in life is great, and it's also never too late to start. Children need a healthy diet for normal growth and development, and Americans of all ages may reduce their risk of chronic disease by adopting a nutritious diet and engaging in regular physical activity. At any age, at every stage of life, everyone can make healthier choices.
John O. Agwunobi
Assistant Secretary for Health