November 15, 2007
The Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has posted on its website a topline frequency report of results from the 2002 FDA Health and Diet Survey. The survey fills an important FDA informational need in protecting and promoting the public health – to understand consumer knowledge, attitudes, and practices related to conventional foods and dietary supplements. The survey provides important findings that respond to One HHS Department-Wide Objective #19 – Emphasize Healthy Living and Prevention of Disease, Illness, and Disability.
The Health and Diet Survey (HDS) is a nationally representative telephone survey of American adults that is conducted by CFSAN every few years to measure and track public awareness, knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to foods, diet and nutrition. Previous administrations of the HDS investigated topics including consumers’ use of food labels and knowledge about diet-disease relationships. The 2002 HDS was conducted between May 14 – September 24 and provided FDA with information about consumer:
- awareness of diet-disease relationships;
- dietary management practices;
- dietary fat and cholesterol knowledge;
- use of food labels; and
- use and perceptions of dietary supplements and their labels.
Some key findings from the survey are:
- Consumers were aware of general relationships between diet and three major chronic diseases – heart disease, cancer, and high blood pressure;
- Many consumers, however, lacked specific knowledge about dietary fats and cholesterol. For example, 59% said cholesterol is found in "all foods containing fat or oil;" 24% said saturated fat is as high as polyunsaturated fat in calories, while 51% said saturated fat is higher in calories than polyunsaturated fat. Only a third of consumers had heard of trans fatty acids, and many of them were not certain which food products contain trans fatty acids;
- The majority of consumers read food labels when they purchased a food product for the first time;
- Many consumers had used dietary supplements; some of them used dietary supplements and prescription drugs concurrently without a doctor’s knowledge. Users obtained product information from a variety of sources, including product labels. Many users thought products were pre-approved by the government;
- Children’s use of dietary supplements was found in 31% of households with 1- to 12-year-old children and in 20% of households with 13- to 17-year-old children, respectively. Multi-vitamin and multi-mineral supplements were the dominant products used.
The complete report is available on FDA’s website. For further information, contact: Steve Bradbard, Ph.D., Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition at (240) 402-1826.