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Investigating how consumers and health professionals understand healthy eating messages
Project Code: FS244029_1
This research builds on previous work by the FSA eatwell week project, which identified that some health professionals and consumers may not understand how the different food groups fit into the healthy balanced diet (http://www.foodbase.org.uk/results.php?f_report_id=712). The FSA Food and You Survey also showed that many consumers did not understand the eatwell plate and the proportions of food groups within the plate (http://www.foodbase.org.uk/results.php?f_report_id=641). Both studies showed that starchy foods in particular may be misunderstood and undervalued, which may result in consumers choosing an unbalanced diet.
The research showed a consensus among consumers and health professionals that ’everybody knows’ consumption of foods high in fat and/or sugar should be limited. However, consumers find it difficult to limit their intake as consumption heavily influenced by the taste, price and convenience of foods high in fat and/or sugar. Consumers and health professionals both identified that the promotion of foods high in fat and/or sugar made them difficult to avoid. Consumers reported using foods high in fat and/or sugar for comfort, entertainment or to alleviate stress or boredom; achieving a healthy balanced diet was not shown to be a priority.
Overall, the research highlighted that starchy foods are not valued as part of the diet and are not a consumer priority. Conversely, foods high in fat and/or sugar are seen to form an enjoyable and essential part of the diet, which play a role as ’treats’. Since FSAS surveys of the Scottish diet show that the population consume too much fat and sugar, this information around consumer preferences for foods high in fat and/or sugar does not come as a surprise. However, the findings strengthen the case for improved messaging of the healthy balanced diet. Equally, the results show a role for industry in providing reformulated products which are lower in fat, saturated fat and sugar, as well as more competitive pricing and promotions on starchy foods and fruit & vegetables.
The work relates to FS244029_2: Exploring the sources of information which might influence health professionals’ delivery of healthy eating advice: A discourse analysis [http://www.foodbase.org.uk/results.php?f_report_id=754]
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