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The vast majority of consumers trying to make their diets more healthy in the past year consider their efforts a failure, according to a new survey.

The Grocery Eye survey of 2,000 people, carried out by researchers Future Thinking, showed nearly half (46%) of consumers had tried to make healthy changes, with products high in sugar singled out as their biggest concern.

However, just 5% of people believed the changes had worked, with only just over a third (34%) of consumers considering their diets were healthier compared to a year ago.

And while the survey showed “clear attempts to focus more on sugar than fat”, when it came to decision making about which products to jettison, the survey showed cutting sugar was “left by the wayside” in favour of reducing fat and portion sizes.

When looking to purchase ‘healthy food’, a third of people used fat content as the most important indicator followed by sugar (22%) and calories (20%).

Amid the confusion, consumers claimed a growing need for guidance from manufacturers and the government, with a significant fall in the proportion who considered themselves responsible for encouraging healthy eating.

Less than 70% of those who responded said they thought adults were responsible for their own decision, compared to 77% when asked a year ago, with the fall even more pronounced when it came to educating children.

“There continues to be confusion as to what being healthy really means and what foods you should and shouldn’t eat,” said Claudia Strauss, managing director of FMCG and shopper at Future Thinking. “Consumers are bombarded with extensive and often contradictory messages.”