The good news first: Our efforts to improve nutrition awareness over the past few decades have paid off. Food companies, the scientific and medical communities, and even the entertainment industry have all made a concerted effort to educate the public about the influence of nutrition on good health. People now not only understand that they can control the state of their health by controlling what they eat and drink, they also want to eat well to be more healthy. A recent Healthline Media survey showed that almost three-quarters (72%) of U.S. adults put forward “eating healthy and nutritious foods” as their most important health or wellness goal.
However, survey results also showed that only one-third (32%) of U.S. adults actually eat healthfully. While we’ve educated people about the benefits of healthy nutrition and successfully driven up their awareness and even their intention, we’ve had very little influence on actual behaviors.
Much has been published in the field of psychology about this “intention-behavior gap,” which acknowledges that intention alone is a poor predictor of actual behavior. Instead, many different theories have been put forth from the fields of psychology, microeconomics, marketing, and others, about all the other factors that drive consumer behavior. And the debate continues.
To understand how to bridge the intention-behavior gap in the context of a healthy lifestyle, our research dug a little deeper. We found that once intention exists, the biggest hurdles to changing how we eat fall into three categories:
Physical limitations such as cost, time, and lack of access to resources;
Psychological limitations, i.e., it’s just too hard to change habits; and
Practical limitations, specifically that people don’t actually know what to do.
Nutrition brands and companies today effectively motivate intention through education and advertising. They also address physical limitations by producing products that are accessible and affordable. But to really change behavior, we also need to address the psychological and the practical.
Healthline Media meets this need through Healthline.com’s ‘healthy eating in real life’ approach, which addresses both the psychological and practical barriers to healthy eating. All of our nutrition content is designed to help people in two key areas:
believe in their ability to make changes to their eating habits, for life
help them identify small steps they can take to take for real, doable change
Aubrey Wood, Editorial Director of Nutrition at Healthline Media, strongly believes in what she calls the ‘Just One Thing’ approach. Her perspective, one that has now permeated our organization, is that “One way we can make a difference is by providing readers with one actionable takeaway from every article, giving them something specific they can do today.”
Nutrition industry: we’re halfway there. Let’s work together to empower and enable our audiences to start eating healthier.
Contact your Healthline Media representative or email us today.