CHICAGO — Consumers in 2010 are more concerned about total calories and sodium than a year before while they increasingly shun foods with trans-fatty acids, according to the 17th annual “Consumer Attitudes About Nutrition; Insights into nutrition, health and soyfoods.” The United Soybean Board made its national survey available July 18 at I.F.T. 10, the Institute of Food Technologists’ annual meeting and food expo going on in Chicago.

Ninety-one per cent said they review the Nutrition Facts Panel when deciding what foods to purchase, which was up from 88% in 2009. Consumers who consider the Nutrition Facts Panel ranked total calories as their top concern at 20% on an unaided basis, which was up from 16% in 2009.

Sodium moved up to second at 11%, while total fat, at 9%, fell to third place from second place in 2009. Sugar in 2010 was at 8%. Trans fat, carbohydrates, saturated fat and calories from fat came in at 7% each.

This year 21% of respondents said they “will not eat foods with trans fat.” The percentage was up from 9% in 2008 and 2% in 2006. In 2010, 73% of Americans view trans fat as very unhealthy, which is up from 69% in 2009 and closer to the peak percentage of 75% in 2007.

The survey revealed 89% of consumers recognize olive oil as healthy. Following olive oil were flaxseed oil (72%), canola oil (70%), soybean oil (69%), sunflower oil (65%) and safflower oil (60%).

Eighty-four per cent of survey respondents rated soy products as healthy on an aided basis, which was on par with last year and an increase of 17 percentage points in the perceived healthiness of soy products over the past 13years. On an unaided basis, 25% of respondents mentioned soy as heart healthy, which was up from 18% in 2009. Other soy health benefits mentioned in 2010 were low in fat (17%), source of protein (16%), good for you (14%) and cholesterol-lowering (10%).

The study involved an independent research firm giving a random survey to 1,005 people in February and providing a sample that is consistent with the total U.S. population. The margin of error was plus-or-minus 1.9% to 3.1%.