According to nutritional survey data of the National Diet most people fail to meet even the minimum dietary guidelines. Our intake of salt, sugar, and saturated fat is too high and our intake of vegetables, fruit, and sufficient fibre are too low. Over 67% of adults are either overweight or obese and they fail to get an adequate amount of micronutrients. This leads to the obvious question of whether or not consumers truly understand what a healthy diet is or not. It also begs the question of where they’re getting their information from.
One survey reported that most consumers felt that getting nutritional information from the labels on their food or by looking it up on the internet were the most reliable ways of getting that information about their food. The law does require that labels provide correct information but that found on the internet is not nearly as reliable. One way to make sure the information you are viewing is correct is to check and see if it’s accredited by the information standard accreditation scheme provided by NHS England. This is especially crucial for organisations such as schools for disabled children or care homes for the elderly.
This is a trustworthy source that helps you identify reliable information on health and social care and it’s a benchmark you should use when verifying nutritional information. Using the NHS as well as other organisations such as the BNF, which are members of the scheme and you will see their logo displayed when it is verified by them for consumers. When the logo is displayed you can rely on the information being correct.
When consumers were asked in a survey, the majority of them agreed that health professionals, dietitians, and nutritionist were the best resources for getting nutritional information. A registered dietitian is generally qualified to diagnose, assess, and treat dietary and nutritional problems for individuals or for the public at large. On the other hand, if someone holds the title of nutritionist this is not something protected by the law and for this reason, the dietary advice they provide may not be based on the latest evidence.
The UK Voluntary Register of Nutritionists is working together with the Association For Nutrition to help resolve this problem. Anyone who registers with them has to demonstrate their knowledge and show a correct understanding of solid nutritional science. Consumers can check to see if an individual is on the register before using them for nutritional advice.
Bloggers and Superfoods
Recently, food bloggers have become very popular and many consumers rely on them for the advice that they give. An example of this has been how coconut oil has been touted as a superfood despite the fact that most evidence suggests that it has very few health benefits and may have derogatory effects such as raising cholesterol. Another example would be the suggestion that certain syrups and kinds of honey are better than table sugar when in fact they all have a similar effect on the body and on dental issues. Smoothies can be a good source of fibre and fruit juice contains many vitamins but they also have high levels of sugar and this should be considered by the consumer to prevent over-consumption.
The idea of certain superfoods has been popularised but is misleading. Most vegetables and fruits are good for us especially if we eat a wide variety of them. Eating a balanced diet full of diversity will often mean consuming less expensive foods instead of always trying to go for those expensive ones that everyone is saying is some kind of miracle food. It should also be noted that sound nutritional advice would not include avoiding entire groups of food such as starches or dairy products because there is no solid medical evidence suggesting that to be a healthy choice. It could even lead to deficiencies and nutritional imbalance. The dietary guidelines provided by the UK are based on scientific evidence and not theory and it is designed to help you get all the nutrients your body needs which can, in turn, mean you develop fewer chronic diseases. It is recommended that you get your dietary information from sources that can be considered reputable.