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Top 10 Food Trends: Hip May Not Mean Healthy

Home Cooking and ‘Natural’ Foods Are Among the Top 10, but Experts Warn of Some Unhealthy Habits
By
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD

April 26, 2011 -- If you’re a self-described "foodie" who increasingly cooks at home, gravitates to ''real" food, sneaks a chocolate treat, tries to eat three squares a day, and often stays at home with popcorn and a movie instead of heading to the theatre, congrats.

You're hip, following many of today's top 10 food trends.

However, that is not to say you're healthy. Some of the food trends are frowned upon by representatives of the Institute of Food Technologists, a nonprofit scientific society that publishes Food Technology magazine. The trends are reported in the April issue and do not necessarily represent the position of the institute.

The trends, released by the Institute of Food Technologists, were compiled by using a variety of information sources, including surveys by Gallup and other organizations.

While a few of the trends are admirable, the unhealthy quality of many trends is of concern to Roger Clemens, DrPH, president-elect of the Institute of Food Technologists. Clemens is an adjunct professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Most of the trends, he tells WebMD, ''are not consistent with U.S. dietary guidelines." Overall, he gives consumers who follow the food trends a D-minus.

Kantha Shelke, PhD, a spokeswoman for the Institute of Food Technologists and a food scientist at Corvus Blue, a food science and nutrition research company, is more charitable. ''Americans get a few points for trying," she says. However, she says the report shows one thing about Americans and their eating habits: "They are far from an A."

The report is published in Food Technology.

Top 10 Food Trends

Here are the top 10 food trends in the new report:

Eating by Demographics. While generation Y-ers pick salty snacks, easy meals, and heat-and-eat breakfasts, the 50-plus eaters choose meals made from scratch, served three times a day.

Home Cooking. Americans are cooking at home more, with more than half of shoppers surveyed saying they prepared more meals at home in 2010 than the year before. That's a 20-year high.

Nutrient Search. Shoppers want products naturally high in vitamins and minerals and look for whole grains.

Special Treats. On the flip side, consumers want their chocolate candy, creamers, and cookies.

Americana Wins. Shoppers are drawn to farm-raised foods as well as regional cuisines such as Southern cooking and barbecue.

Getting Real. Shoppers say they avoid foods with preservatives, artificial colors, and flavors.

Three a Day. The number of adults who say they eat three meals a day rose 6% during the past two years. Breakfast was most likely to be added.

Foods with Function. Consumers want more than good taste in foods. They want foods that are kind to cholesterol and blood pressure.

Home Sweet Home. Bringing snacks from home to movies is popular, perhaps driven by the weak economy. More snacking is done at home now. Home entertaining is up, too.

Foodies Are Us. Two-thirds of consumers say they are knowledgeable and interested in food. Young adults, ages 25 to 34, are most likely to call themselves ''foodies."

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