Most people don™t stop to think about what type of sweeteners they use and what the differences between them might mean for their overall well-being. The debate between sugar and the blue, yellow and pink packets is ongoing, and the question is: how important are these differences to people? As a new Harris Poll of 2,602 U.S. adults surveyed online between May 5 and 12, 2008 by Harris Interactive® shows, Americans are split on the importance of knowing what sweeteners are used, and a majority do believe artificial sweeteners are only somewhat or not at all safe. Specifically:

  • Half of Americans (50%) say it is extremely or very important to know what sweeteners are used when they are purchasing food and beverages while half (50%) say it is only somewhat or not at all important. Just under one-quarter of U.S. adults (22%) believe it is extremely important to know this information;
  • Three in five Americans (61%) believe artificial sweeteners are only somewhat or not at all safe while one in five (21%) say they are extremely or very safe and just under one in five (18%) are not at all sure about the safety of these sweeteners.

While Americans may not believe these artificial sweeteners are completely safe, there is no level of concern over them at the moment:

  • Just one quarter of Americans (23%) say they are extremely or very concerned about the amount of artificial sweeteners they and their family consume, with just one in ten (9%) extremely concerned;
  • Over three-quarters (77%) are only somewhat or not at all concerned about the amount of artificial sweeteners consumed, with over one-third (36%) not at all concerned.

There is a generational difference on attitudes towards artificial sweeteners. Specifically:

  • The older generations are more likely to want to know what is sweetening their food. Three in five (59%) Matures (those aged 63 and older) say it is extremely or very important to know versus two-thirds (65%) of Echo Boomers (those aged 18-31) who say it is somewhat or not at all important to know what is sweetening their food;
  • Matures are also most likely to believe artificial sweeteners are safe. Three in ten (29%) of the oldest generation believe they are extremely or very safe compared to one in five (22%) Baby Boomers (those aged 44-62), 20 percent of Generation X (those aged 32-43) and just 13 percent of Echo Boomers.

So What?

At the moment, Americans are divided on the importance of knowing about their sweeteners and lean towards thinking artificial ones are not that safe. As more information about the different artificial sweeteners comes out, people may start to become more concerned and we might see some shift in those numbers. But, for now, there are no worries about using the pink, blue or yellow packets.

Methodology

This Harris Poll® was conducted online within the United States between May 5 and 12, 2008, among 2,602 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents™ propensity to be online. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated. Full data tables and methodology for this study can be found at www.harrisinteractive.com.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

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About Harris Interactive

Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

Harris Interactive Inc. 6/08

Press:
Harris Interactive
Tracey McNerney, 585-214-7756
press@harrisinteractive.net

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