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Barriers to and facilitators and perceptions of nut consumption among the general population in New Zealand

  • Lee Ching Yong (a1), Andrew R Gray (a2), Alex Chisholm (a1), Sook Ling Leong (a3), Siew Ling Tey (a1) and Rachel C Brown (a1)...
Abstract
Objective

Despite considerable evidence supporting the health benefits of regular nut consumption, nut intakes remain lower than recommended among many populations. Understanding how the general population perceives nuts could inform strategies to promote regular nut consumption and increase intakes among the general public.

Design

Cross-sectional study. Participants were invited to complete a questionnaire which included information on nut consumption and knowledge and perceptions of nuts.

Setting

The study was set in New Zealand (NZ).

Subjects

Participants (n 1600), aged 18 years or over, were randomly selected from the NZ electoral roll.

Results

A total of 710 participants completed the questionnaire (response rate 44 %). More than half of the respondents believed that nuts are healthy, filling, high in protein and high in fat. The most common reason cited by consumers for eating nuts was taste (86 % for nuts, 85 % for nut butters), while dental issues was the most frequent reason for avoidance. About 40 % of respondents were not aware of the effects of nut consumption on lowering blood cholesterol and CVD risk.

Conclusions

Despite overall basic knowledge of the nutritional value of nuts, a substantial proportion of the general population was unaware of the cardioprotective effects of nuts. The present study identified common motivations for eating and avoiding nuts, as well as perceptions of nuts which could affect intake. These should guide the content and direction of public health messages to increase regular nut consumption. The public’s knowledge gaps should also be addressed.

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Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email rachel.brown@otago.ac.nz
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