There’s a big difference between what we say about our health and what our eating habits actually reveal. The NPD Group verified this dichotomy once again in its report, “The Market for Functional Foods,” released in September 2012.

Consistently, eight out of 10 US adults describe themselves as “extremely healthy” or “very healthy,” but only one in five follows what is considered to be a “most healthy” diet, and 65% of adults have a body mass index (BMI) that characterizes them as overweight or obese, according to the market research company based at Rosemont, IL.

Yet there’s hope. In spite of their overly positive assessment of their own health, almost half of adult Americans in the NPD survey recognized the need to change their diet in order to improve the overall healthfulness of their lives.

These adults defined healthy eating in terms of adding to or taking something out of their diets. Well over half, 55%, of the 1,921 adults surveyed said that eating healthy is equally adding to and taking out of their diet. Among the others, 26% said that “adding something to the diet” is healthy eating, and 19% said that “taking something out” of the diet is.

NPD observed that dieting, which is traditionally more about taking something out of the diet, is not the health or weight management solution it once was for American adults. The percentage of adults claiming to be on a diet is down from earlier years. What are people doing instead? They are taking vitamins and eating functional foods and beverages — those fortified with whole grains or probiotics.

“A huge opportunity exists to increase functional product usage among adults and teens who have already tried functional products at some point but are not using them on a daily basis,” said Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “If the 118 million less-frequent adult users could be encouraged to include just one more functional food or beverage in their diet each week, this would result in an increase of more than 6 billion eatings each year.”