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Study Hall: Is doing your taxes easier than making healthy food choices?


For Study Hall each week, we sort through the deluge of new medical studies and wordy white papers to bring you one that deserves your attention—in plain, healthy English.

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Filing your tax return is obviously more stressful than choosing a healthy afternoon snack, right? Well, maybe not.

According to the 2012 Food and Health Survey published by the International Food Information Council Foundation, it may be harder for Americans to do the latter.

The study: About 1,000 Americans ages 18–80 completed an online survey that asked questions about health, food choices, physical activity, weight loss, sustainability, food safety, and more.

The results: The survey yielded over 100 pages of information about Americans’ perceptions and choices when it comes to food and health. Some key points: While respondents were more likely to believe they were in very good or excellent health compared to past years, nearly all were trying to improve at least one aspect of their eating habits.

Men reported that it was easier to exercise than to eat healthy, while women reported that eating healthy was easier. People also said they believed exercise and sleep impact health more than diet.

And, finally, about half the respondents reported that making healthy food choices was harder than figuring out how to do their own taxes.

What it means: Eating healthy is tricky (or the country is educating a bumper crop of tax accountants). But you can try to keep it as simple as possible by prioritizing fresh, whole, plant-based foods. —Allison Becker