Health is trending in the US. From superfoods like kale to new exercise fads like yoga and CrossFit, healthy habits are on the tip of the American public's tongue. So with health and wellness going mainstream, have people really changed their habits?

Consumers aspire to better health and healthier eating, but wanting and doing are two different things, according to Nielsen consumer research. More than one-third of American adults are still obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And half admit that healthy eating is a challenge, especially in the face of rising food costs.

Despite setbacks, however, the desire to achieve an improved quality of life is driving consumers to pursue specific health and wellness behaviors, such as consuming healthy foods or reading package labels. By identifying unmet consumer nutrient needs, finding foods that address consumers' health concerns and understanding different consumer segments' varied habits, retailers and manufacturers can help consumers overcome the obstacles they face when it comes to health and wellness and improve their lifestyles. 

The Importance of Labels

One key area where retailers can easily help consumers meet their health and wellness goals is in labels. Today's consumers are confused by inconsistent and often unclear labels on products. From a global perspective, Nielsen research shows that six in 10 shoppers agree that they “mostly” understand nutritional information on food packaging, while 35 percent only grasp the nutrition data “in part” and 7 percent do not comprehend the information at all. However, the number of consumers checking labels has increased in the last eight years, and improved label clarity should lead to better in-store nutrition decisions.