When you think of how a certain generation of young adults is eating these days compared to their predecessors, what are the first things that come to mind?
Something like, "the millennial generation is making a shift towards fresh fruits, vegetables, and meats," which is what Marketplace reported in March, citing an industry analyst group.
But none of that may be true—or at least, those trends provide a highly incomplete picture of millennial snacking habits, according to the following charts from Nielsen's Global Snacking Survey.
Globally, 66 percent of individuals aged 21-34 said they had eaten chocolate in the past 30 days, the most for any snack category. "Fresh fruit" came in at 60 percent and "vegetables" clocked in at 51 percent— a notch lower than what Nielsen is calling "bread/sandwich outside a meal," which stood at 52 percent.
Meanwhile, only 23 percent said they'd eaten "jerky/meat snacks," just 16 percent said they'd eaten "nutrition/energy bars," and a disturbing 7 percent said they'd eaten hummus.
Here's the chart for global young people:
In the U.S., "fresh fruit" comes in behind…
- Chocolate (59 percent)
- Chips (58 percent)
- Cookies (54 percent)
- Cheese (52 percent)
- "Cereal (outside a meal)" (51 percent OMG guys are you serious)
- "Bread/sandwich (outside a meal)"
Hummus is at least at a somewhat respectable 30 percent, but other non- or low-gluten snacks like jerky don't get higher than 25 percent.
These are basically the same results Americans gave when asked which snack they would choose above all others.
Actually, the rest of the world isn't much better.
"With the global consumer trend of consumers viewing snacking as a meal replacement (nearly half of global consumers snack in place of a traditional meal) - consumers are demanding indulgent and healthy snacks," said James Russo, SVP Global Consumer Insight at Nielsen. "If you look at Millennial top snacking choices you’ll see this healthy/indulgent dynamic play out with Millennials choosing a range of healthy and indulgent options that include chocolate and cookies to fruits and vegetables.”
The surveys were conducted between February and March of 2014, but the Wall Street Journal reported in October that, Chocolate sales in the U.S. had climbed 3.2 percent in 2013 compared with a 2.7 percent increase for total packaged food, according to Euromonitor— "despite Americans’ growing interest in eating healthier."
So keep telling people you're eating healthier — we know what waters you're really swimming in.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.