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MONDAY, Dec. 22, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Americans are buying fewer pre-packaged baked goods, such as pies, cakes and cookies, new research shows.
However, the study authors also found that people are not choosing healthier foods in their place. And little progress has been made on the part of food manufacturers in making pre-packaged treats healthier, the researchers said.
Although the amount of sugar and fat in these products didn't change much between 2005 and 2012, the number of store-bought packaged doughnuts, pastries and other goodies purchased by Americans fell by 24 percent. The findings were published online Dec. 22 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"The results of this study indicated that larger wide-scale efforts are needed among public health officials and all manufacturers of ready-to-eat grain-based desserts to shift consumer purchases towards products with lower energy, sugar, and saturated fat content," study author Dr. Kevin Mathias, a recent graduate of the nutrition department at the University of North Carolina, said in a journal news release.
One reason why manufacturers may have lagged in their efforts to make healthy changes to their products is that it's difficult to make newer, healthier versions of old products look the same and have the same taste and texture, the researchers explained.
Changing the labels on various foods to highlight their nutritional content could help Americans make healthier choices, the researchers said. But they cautioned that such a strategy could backfire if Americans began to buy more pre-packaged treats because they think they are healthier.
"The results from the product and purchase level analyses highlight an opportunity for both food manufacturers and public health officials to work together to develop strategies to shift consumer purchases towards products with lower energy, sugar, and saturated fat densities," Mathias said.
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
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