The results of a survey conducted by the International Food Information Council were presented at the American Farm Bureau Federation's annual conference. The highlights and findings were discussed in an article in the Voice of Agriculture, in which we learn "42 percent of survey respondents feel that the food and health information they receive from various sources is contradictory. Slightly more than 30 percent said it was inconsistent."
Rachel Cheatham, Director of Science and Health Communications for the IFIC says "This really is the issue, [t]here is an overload of information. How do we package this information so that people understand it and know what to do with it?”
The survey results found that "very few people understand or apply the concept of energy balance, in which calories consumed and calories used are treated as an equation that results in weight maintenance, or depending on the individual’s goals, weight loss or gain. Almost half of the survey respondents said they don’t balance the calories they take in with the calories they use, while 16 percent said they do increase their exercise to compensate for eating more than usual."
I have to say I'm not surprised - it's simply not natural for us to be so calorie obessed, to the point where we are ever aware of the calories were eating each day - so it's no wonder that most people don't make it a point to "balance" calories in and calories out each day!
The article however makes this an issue of selling the concept to consumers rather than questioning its validity; "calorie counting is a hard sell."
For some reason we are stuck in this thinking that the problem isn't the concept, but the execution. If it were only that easy. If it were only a matter that people don't get it and more education would lead to better compliance. If it were only a matter of calories in and calories out, and just following a recipe to eat x-servings of this and y-servings of that each day to remain within prescribed calorie intake.
I've said it many times before - the flaw is in the recommendations, not in those trying to follow them! It's more than just calories, and rather than try to sell consumers on an unnatural way of eating each day, perhaps time is better spent understanding how modification of the macronutrients (carbohydrate, protein and fat) can lead to spontaneous reduction of calorie intake without counting calories.
Until the powers that be begin to address the role of nutrients and micronutrients on hunger and satiety, on nutritional status, and on health and well-being, little is going to change.
Afterall, the thinking goes that it remains the fault of the individual to not follow the recommendations rather than the recommendations failing to live up to expectations and provide the necessary nutrients and satiety to be followed long-term successfully.
I've said before, "The failure of the dietary recommendations are no small matter, various agencies go to great pains to explain away the long-term failure and wind up making the issue one of personal failure rather than admit the flaw is in the recommendations."
If you'd like to read more on the issue of our flawed recommendations, two previous articles provide greater depth on the subject: