This paper describes the development of an online questionnaire for testing nutrition professionals' perceptions of the ‘healthiness’ of individual foods and the results of administering that questionnaire. The questionnaire was designed to produce a standard ranking of foods that can be used as a tool for testing nutrient profile models.
The questionnaire asked respondents to categorise 40 foods (from a master list of 120) in one of six positions, ranging from less to more healthy. The 120 foods were selected to be representative of the British diet. The questionnaire was sent via email to nutrition professionals from the British Dietetic Association and the (British) Nutrition Society.
Eight hundred and fifty responses were received. These responses were used to rank the 120 foods by the average score which they received from the nutrition professionals. A regression analysis was also carried out to examine the relationship between the scores awarded by the nutrition professionals and various features of the foods: their nutritional content, their average serving size, their frequency of consumption, whether they were drinks or foods, etc. Nearly 50% of the variance in the average scores was explained by the nutritional content of the foods. When other variables were included in the analysis the percentage of variance that was explained increased to 64%.
The average scores of the foods produce a standard ranking, which can be used as a tool for validating and comparing nutrient profile models. The regression analysis provides some information about how nutrition professionals rank the ‘healthiness’ of individual foods.
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