In recent years, epidemiologic and clinical studies, public and regulatory policy activity, and media coverage have focused on issues related to trans fats. To help increase awareness and understanding of trans fats and other fats, the American Heart Association (AHA) launched the "Face the Fats" national consumer education campaign in April 2007. The AHA commissioned a quantitative tracking survey between 2006 and 2007 to measure changes in consumer awareness, knowledge, and behaviors related fats and oils and their perceived impact on heart disease. The survey was conducted by Cogent Research. Data were collected during March 2006 and May 2007. At both time points, the survey included a representative sample of the American population age 18 to 65 years (n=1,000). The sampling plan for the survey was designed based on the 2000 and 2003 US Census. The margin of error was +/-3.10 percentage points. Awareness of trans fats increased during the 1-year study period. In 2007, 92% of respondents were aware of trans fats, an increase from 84% in 2006 (P<0.05). The 2007 level was similar to the awareness of saturated fats (93%). Perceptions that certain fats and oils heighten the risk of heart disease increased for trans fats (73% in 2007 vs 63% in 2006; P<0.05), saturated fats (77% in 2007 vs 73% in 2006; P<0.05), and partially hydrogenated oils (56% in 2007 vs 49% in 2006; P<0.05). Knowledge about food sources of different fats remained low. On an unaided basis, 21% could name three food sources of trans fats in 2007, up from 17% in 2006 (P<0.05). Knowledge of food sources of saturated fat remained unchanged at 30% in 2007. Significantly more respondents in 2007 reported behavioral changes related to trans fat information, such as buying food products because they show "zero trans fat" on labels or packages (37% in 2007 vs. 32% in 2006; P<0.05). Between 2006 and 2007, consumer awareness about trans fats increased and attained awareness levels similar to saturated fats. The increased awareness is associated with improved self-reported behaviors in grocery shopping. Nonetheless, overall knowledge, especially regarding food sources of saturated and trans fats, remains relatively low, underscoring the need for heightened consumer education activities. The positive change in consumer awareness about trans fats is likely attributable to the wide range of messages available to them, including the AHA "Face the Fats" national consumer education campaign.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics