CHICAGO – When it comes to understanding nutrition and what constitutes healthy eating, US Hispanics have different ideas than the rest of the US population, according to a recent study on US Hispanics’ food and beverage consumption patterns conducted by The NPD Group, a leading market research company.
US Hispanics, particularly those foreign-born and Spanish-language dominant, claim to know more about nutrition than most people, but define nutrition in terms of quality as well as quantity, according to NPD’s “It’s Mealtime with US Hispanics” report. Filling and eating everything on a plate conveys that a person “eats well” and a nutritious meal was served, which is a symbol of good health among Spanish-language dominant and foreign-born US Hispanics.
Forty-six percent of Spanish-language dominant Hispanics feel that almost everything that is very good for you doesn’t taste very good. However, proportions change as Hispanics acculturate. For example, 31 percent of bilingual Hispanics and only 11 percent of English dominant Hispanics agree.
“Food and beverages play a central role in the preservation of Hispanic culture and reconnection for family; as a result, Hispanics view mealtime, nutrition, and healthy eating differently than non-Hispanics,” says Terry Soto, president and CEO of About Marketing Solutions, Inc., who consulted with NPD on the development of the It’s Mealtime with U.S. Hispanics report. “Going for seconds is encouraged and welcomed, and conveys that a person ‘eats well’ and has a good appetite, which is a symbol of good health.”
The NPD report, which includes information from NET Hispanic, a year-long study on the eating behaviors of US Hispanics by level of acculturation, finds that the effect of Hispanics’ attitudes about nutrition and healthy eating are reflected in weight and health issues, particularly among Spanish-dominant US Hispanics.
“With weight conditions and diet-related health issues prominent among US Hispanics, there is an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to position products for how Hispanics actually eat and to align with their attitudes about healthy eating,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst and author of “It’s Mealtime with US Hispanics” report. “Bilingual nutritional information on products and in-store will help, but it’s also important to keep in mind less-acculturated Hispanics’ attitudes that healthy isn’t tasty or in some cases as nutritious.”