Most U.S. consumers believe it is important to eat a well-balanced diet to prevent major illnesses, but lifestyle challenges prevent them from doing so, according to a recent global consumer wellness study by business-to-business nutrition brand Nutiani.

The IPSOS Nutiani Consumer Wellness Research, jointly conducted by leading market research agency IPSOS and Nutiani, global dairy company Fonterra’s health and wellbeing brand, examines the perspectives of 1,000 US consumers across the full spectrum of health.

Most consumers (92%) are adopting a holistic mindset and believe good health involves not just being physically well, but looking after all aspects of wellbeing. Despite most saying they actively take steps to manage their health, barriers stemming from lifestyle choices are hampering progress. 

Rethinking nutrition for overall wellbeing

Nutrition is seen as essential to overall wellbeing, with 86 percent of consumers believing well-balanced diets are important to prevent major illnesses. However, in practice, only 53 percent choose to eat a healthy diet to maintain their wellbeing. 

Consumers who choose not to adopt nutrition solutions to support wellbeing goals say they do not believe the health claims made by existing products and perceive them to be too costly, resulting in a preference to rely on their natural diets (25 percent).

Barriers to action remain for others. Close to four in five consumers expressed that they face challenges in managing their wellbeing. Although the main obstacle is lack of discipline (44%), they are also limited by cost (33%) and busy lifestyles (19%), especially the younger age group (16-24 years old). 

Younger Americans, who cite lack of time as a key barrier to achieving their nutrition goals, are receptive to consuming ingredients to help boost their overall wellbeing, including dairy proteins, probiotics and essential fatty acids in a variety of formats, including ready-to-drink beverages, capsules or tablets.

 Prioritized wellbeing areas closely tied with global events 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an existing trend towards preventative health, and consumers became even more focused on reducing the risk of potential diseases to maximize overall enjoyment of life. According to the Consumer Wellness Research, protection against major illnesses (43%), the ability to live life to the fullest (38 percent) and spending quality time with loved ones (33%), are now the top reasons for staying healthy.

Commenting on the findings, Charlotte Ortiz, Nutiani Global Brand Marketing Manager, says the prolonged impact of COVID-19 will likely have a permanent effect on consumer health priorities.

 “Consumers are prioritizing their health and wellbeing and paying more attention to preventative action. The fact that many American consumers understand the role nutrition plays in managing wellbeing but struggle to manage their diet the way they would like to, suggests that existing products are not effectively meeting their needs. Coupled with their determination and interest in holistic wellbeing, as well as their openness to ingredients and formats, there is a white space opportunity for brands to start delivering accessible and convenient nutrition solutions such as ready-to-drink beverages, to support them in achieving their health goals,” Ortiz says.

Dan Luo, Acting Director of Active Living at Fonterra, says the future of health and nutrition will belong to brands that can identify and bridge existing gaps and target unmet needs through innovative offerings.

 We know consumers today care deeply about their nutrition and are looking for simple products they can trust. The growth in the physical, mental and inner wellbeing nutrition market is significant if brands can overcome consumer barriers like convenience and credibility, and stay ahead of evolving needs across different dimensions of health,” Luo adds.