in sodium content, they are not necessarily consuming sodium within the recommended levels. In fact, NPD Group data indicate that all age groups are consuming too much sodium. Among adults, seniors (65 years and older) consume the least amount of sodium, at an average 2,912 milligrams per day. The maximum recommended daily intake level, however, is 2,300 milligrams for the general population (the recommended average daily sodium intake level is 1,500 milligrams or less, particularly for older adults; African Americans; and anyone with hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease).
American consumers are not looking at fat content as often as in the past (43 percent in 2010 compared to 48 percent in 2004), according to NPD data. At one time, checking fat content was second only to checking calories. Nor are they looking at cholesterol as much as they did in the past (28 percent in 2010 compared to 32 percent in 2004). Like fats, cholesterol used to be a primary health concern (in the late 1980s). Calcium content is being checked less often as well (9 percent in 2010 compared to 10 percent in 2004).
Seifer emphasized that not only are people looking for different things on the Nutrition Facts Panel, they are also looking for ways to enhance, not restrict, their diets, according to NPD data. It is easier to add ingredients to one’s diet than remove them. This may partly explain yogurt’s increasing popularity, according to Seifer. The simple act of eating yogurt provides health benefits. Consumers would rather ingest their way to health than restrict their way to health. In 2010, more people were trying to add whole grains, dietary fiber, and antioxidants to their diets than in 2004. Also in 2010, not nearly as many people were as cautious about fat, salt, cholesterol, sugar, and caffeine as have been in the past. Along the same line, dieting is also on the decline, with a smaller percentage of people reporting being on any diet in 2011 compared to 2002. Older adults report being on a diet more often than any other age group.
Consumer Behavior Around Probiotics and Prebiotics
When probiotics were first introduced into the marketplace, consumers were confused. According to data collected by the NPD Group, in 2006 more adults were trying to cut down on or avoid probiotics (13 percent) than get more probiotics into their diets (10 percent). The trend has shifted, with more adults trying to get probiotics into their diets (24 percent) than avoid them (10 percent) in 2010. Prebiotics are still a challenge, with only 15 percent of adults trying to get more prebiotics in their diets in 2010 and 12 percent trying to cut down or avoid prebiotics.
Seifer emphasized that consumers tend to be reactive, not proactive. That is, they tend to react when there is a need, such as a medical condi-