Suzana Mikolova / January 10, 2019

Understanding Where Consumers Get Their Source of Dietary Information From

A study that was published by the National Diet and Nutrition Survey has shown that we as a nation are simply not meeting our dietary guidelines. Many people are taking in too many sugars, saturated fats, and high salt content without consuming enough fish, fruits, vegetables and fibre. Two-thirds of all adults are overweight and obese in addition to an inadequate micronutrient intake. Do consumers actually know what makes up a healthy diet and if not, where are they getting their nutritional information from?

In a national survey that was conducted, the vast majority of consumers stated that food labels and the internet were the most reliable sources of food information. While it is true that food labels are going to be accurate, depending on the internet for factual information can be dangerous. Thankfully, there is an easy way to check food facts. The Information Standard accreditation scheme, which is supported by NHS England is the standard in which it is used to identify health and social care information that is reliable and truthful, which is integral in finding nutrition information. The NHS Choices website, as well as over 200 other websites, are included as members of the scheme, allowing for the Information Standard logo to be displayed on pages that provide vital information to consumers. This information is particularly important for disabled schools like Treloar’s where the dietary needs of its students must be reviewed regularly.

Consumers believed that nutritionists, dietitians and health professionals were the best sources of dietary information. Registered dieticians are those health professionals that are trained to understand, diagnose, and treat nutritional problems for not only individuals but the general public as a whole. What many consumers may find surprising is the term nutritionist is not one that is supported by any law, and anyone can claim to be a nutritionist and be able to offer advice and treatment which is not based on evidence or science. The Association for Nutrition is attempting to tackle this potentially serious subject with the UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists. It is essential that those practising nutrition have the correct knowledge and understanding of the main components of nutrition that allows consumers to seek out information and assistance from those that truly know the science before fully placing their trust in them.

Influence of Bloggers

One can simply notice how certain foods are rising and falling due to the influence of food bloggers that can be found in the industry and have a large influence on what foods are considered healthy or not. One such product that is currently being placed on a pedestal is that of coconut oil, however, studies have shown that it offers a very high saturated fat content, will raise blood pressure, and may not offer any other benefits. While syrups, honey, and nectars are actually considered much healthier alternatives to table sugar, they are considered free sugars that the PHE advises keeping a minimal amount of in our diets and should be kept at a limit to reduce the amount of weight gain and dental problems. Fruit juice is one of those items that is going to provide a decent amount of vitamins as well as an essential amount of fibre. They can count up to one of your five a day portions but should be limited to just 150 mL a day avoid overdoing your free sugar content, which is why you do not want to overdo your juicing efforts.

Consideration of Superfoods

Another thing to consider is the term superfoods, as this is rather misleading as well. An example of this is eating all of the fruits and vegetables that you can, but there is no need to simply purchase those that are being marketed as a superfood with a hefty price because one can have a very healthy diet without the need of expensive trendy health foods. Another thing that you want to consider not doing is avoiding a whole group of products such as dairy where there has been no medical reason for you to stop, as this can create an unhealthy balance in your life.

The UK standard of dietary guidelines have been based upon the most recent scientific evidence that is available and ensures that you are getting the best advice to help you minimise the risk of developing a chronic disease or condition, it is best to consume a diet that is compliant with the Eatwell Guide and always consult a reputable source for dietary information.

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