KANSAS CITY — Americans are dieting more than ever, but the reason why often differs by age. In fact, 52% of consumers say they followed a diet or eating pattern during the past year, according to the 2022 Food and Health Survey by the International Food Information Council (IFIC). That’s well above 38% in 2021, 43% in 2022 and 38% in 2019.

Boomers are more likely to mention protecting long-term health (35%) and losing weight (34%) as their top motivations. Gen Z, however, diets to improve physical appearance (50%) and to better manage a health condition (43%).

One intriguing tidbit involves how people address health concerns. IFIC’s survey found that the preference for taking a medication over a lifestyle change has risen dramatically over the past decade. Overall, 38% of those surveyed prefer medication for a health condition compared to 16% in 2012, an increase of 22%.

The interest in medication has gone up for all groups, but mostly for those under 50. IFIC’s survey showed 49% of those age 18 to 34 prefer medication along with 46% of people who are 35 to 49. That compares to 28% for those 50 to 64 and 27% for those 65 and older. Maybe they’re taking too many pills already.

IFIC also found 22% of consumers blame sugars as the most likely source of weight gain followed by carbohydrates (21%) and fats (19%). Interestingly, 34% of consumers in fair/poor health believe calories from carbs are most likely to cause weight gain vs. 19% of consumers in excellent/very good health.

Bakers need to keep promoting the nutritional value of the products they make.