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Most Americans believe their diet is healthy

January 5, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
It's that time of year when it seems everyone is going on a diet. But a recent Consumer Reports survey shows by the end of last year, only 15 percent remained on diets they started and 40 percent ate whatever they wanted.Ninety percent of the 1,234 U.S. adults polled described their diet over the past year as "somewhat," "very," or "extremely" healthy. But delve deeper into the survey's findings, and it seems we may be fooling ourselves.

"We asked people what steps they're taking to eat well and control their weight. It turns out that only 15 percent are counting calories, which is actually a key strategy for losing weight," said Consumer Reports' Nancy Metcalf.

In fact, the poll found most people don't have an accurate take on calorie counting.

"We asked people which had more calories, a Dunkin' Donuts glazed donut or a Dunkin' Donuts plain bagel. Seventy-five percent got it wrong," said Metcalf.

The doughnut actually has 260 calories, while the bagel has 320 calories.

When asked whether there are more calories in 20 M&Ms or an ounce of pretzel sticks, many chose the M&Ms. But the chocolate candies have 68 calories, while the ounce of pretzel sticks has 100 calories.

"Even people who described themselves in our poll as watching what they eat didn't necessarily make good choices," said Metcalf.

About 30 percent who say they carefully limit sugar consume a sugar-sweetened drink most days. And 10 percent who say they strictly limit their fat had bacon or another fatty meat for breakfast.

The good news is nearly 60 percent of those polled said they eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day. And they're choosing whole grains instead of white bread and white rice.

Consumer Reports' survey also found 78 percent of Americans eat breakfast, which has been shown to keep your weight under control.