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Nutrition professionals' perception of the ‘healthiness’ of individual foods

  • Peter Scarborough (a1), Mike Rayner (a1), Lynn Stockley (a1) and Alison Black (a2)
Abstract
Objectives

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.

Design

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.

Results

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%.

Conclusions

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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Copyright
Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: Email peter.scarborough@dphpc.ox.ac.uk
References
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1Department of Health. Choosing Health. Making Healthier Choices Easier. London: Department of Health, 2005.
2European Commission. Proposal for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the council on nutrition and health claims made on foods. Brussels: European Commission, 16 July 2003; 2003/0165 (COD).
3Scarborough, P, Rayner, M, Stockley, L. Developing nutrient profile models: a systematic approach. Public Health Nutrition 2007; in press.
4Rayner, M, Scarborough, P, Stockley, L. Nutrient profiles: further testing and modifications to model SSCg3d [online]. London: Food Standards Agency, 2005. Available athttp://www.food.gov.uk/multimedia/pdfs/npreportsept05.pdf . Accessed 24 October 2006.
5Azais-Braesco, V, Goffi, C, Labouze, E. Nutrient profiling: comparison and critical analysis of existing systems. Public Health Nutrition 2006; 9(5): 613–22.
6Scarborough, P, Boxer, A, Rayner, M, Stockley, L. Testing nutrient profile models using data from a survey of nutrition professionals. Public Health Nutrition 2007; in press.
7Roe, M, Finglas, P, Church, S. McCance and Widdowson's The Composition of Foods, 6th ed. London: Royal Society of Chemistry, 2002.
8Henderson, L, Gregory, J, Swan, G. The National Diet and Nutrition Survey: Adults aged 19 to 64 years. London: HMSO, 2002.
9Paquette, MC. Perception of healthy eating. State of knowledge and research gaps. Canadian Journal of Public Health 2005; 96(Suppl. 1): S159.
10Keane, A, Willetts, A. Concepts of Healthy Eating: An Anthropological Investigation in South East London. London: Goldsmiths University of London, 1996.
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Public Health Nutrition
  • ISSN: 1368-9800
  • EISSN: 1475-2727
  • URL: /core/journals/public-health-nutrition
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