Americans, especially Christians, concerned about poor eating habits

(Photo: REUTERS / Gary Cameron)Molly Schuyler (L) of Bellevue, Nebraska, stretches to consume another burger at the sixth annual Independence Burger Eating Contest at Z-Burger in Washington July 3, 2014. The contest includes some of the top competitive eaters in the U.S. to see who can eat the most hamburgers in 10 minutes. Schuyler won the contest, eating 26 hamburgers in the allotted time.

Nearly half of Americans are concerned they eat too much (47 percent), especially young adults, a new U.S. survey shows.

But age is not the only striking demographic Christians are more concerned about diet than other Americans.

The concern about eating habits is greatest among young adults and emerges on a number of food-related topics addressed in a new Barna Group study.

But not every generation is equally worried. In fact, Millennials are almost twice as likely as Elders to express concern about their diet and nutrition.

The survey found that guilt after eating is one of the symptoms of an eating disorder, but many Americans who don't suffer from a clinical disorder say they sometimes feel food-related guilt.

More than half of U.S. adults (55 percent) say they occasionally, regularly or constantly feel guilty about their eating habits.

Guilt is more common among Millennials (62 percent) and Gen-Xers (60 percent) than among Boomers (52 percent) and Elders (36 percent). The survey says that "perhaps unsurprisingly", it is also more prevalent among women (61 percent) than men (49 percent).

Compared to non-Christian faith adherent (47 percent), more practicing Christians (63 percent) report feelings of food guilt.


It noted that here may be something to the notion of "Catholic guilt," since even more practicing Catholics – 65 percent of them - say they feel guilt related to eating.

The Barna survey notes, "Whether it's Michelle Obama's initiatives to curb childhood obesity - one in three American children is overweight or obese - or recent criticisms lobbed by Congress at Dr. Oz for his promotion of "miracle cures" for obesity, there is no shortage of media coverage sounding the alarm about America's nutritional emergency.

"With growing knowledge about food and its effects on health, and the availability of so many online resources and diet apps, it comes as no surprise that younger adults are more concerned about how much they eat, and what they eat, than older adults," the survey says. Millennials -born between 1984 and 2002 - are the generation most likely to say they are very or somewhat concerned about how much they eat (57 percent).

In contrast, far fewer Elders - born in 1945 or earlier - express concern about eating too much (30 percent). Gen-Xers (49 percent) and Boomers (44 percent) fall between these extremes.

Despite the availability of healthier choices, however, half of all Americans say they are concerned they eat too much unhealthy food (51 percent) and one-third say they eat too much fast food (37 percent).

Again, Millennials are much more likely to express concern about unhealthy eating and fast food consumption than Gen-Xers, Boomers and Elders

The Barna Group studied eating habits and food-related topics studied Americans 18 and older. Overall, young adults are twice as likely as Elders to express concern about their eating habits.

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