The Foods Which Nutritionists and People Can’t Agree On
Which foods are actually healthy and which ones are not?
As health foods continue to be a topic of growing interest, it seems obvious that consumers would be able to comprehend which foods are good or bad for them, however, it’s not that simple.
Temasek Polytechnic and Food For Real surveyed 59 nutritionists and dieticians as well as 204 of the general public in Singapore, asking them to judge how healthy certain food items are. Both groups were given the chance to rate traditional Singaporean local dishes to trendier manufactured foods from 0 to 10.
0 being very unhealthy and 10 being very healthy.
One of the key findings of this survey was that generally, people tend to consider foods notably healthier than nutritionists. Their average rating was 10% higher compared to professionals’.
Simultaneously, it was surprising to see how the peoples’ opinions varied much more than the professionals’. Their responses differed widely from each other by over 20%. Nutritionists also differed, but much less compared to general public (25% more consistency across their opinions).
FOODS THAT PEOPLE RATED HEALTHIER THAN NUTRITIONISTS
Alkaline water: Most people (72%) seems to perceive this innovation very positively, but most experts clearly feel it’s just a fad. Only 23% rated it with a 6 or higher.
Organic sausages: 31% of people considered them healthy, while only 6% of experts believed the same. This shows that people were highly influenced by the term ‘organic’.
Granola bars: 64% of people believed they were healthy, while just 16% of experts agreed. This response was probably driven by the amount of sugar contained in these snacks.
Protein bars: 43% of people perceived them as healthy, and only 16% of experts concurred. Heavy marketing promoting these products over the last few years might explain the difference.
Orange juice (packaged): 55% of people thought of the beverage as healthy, whereas only 25% of nutritionists felt the same way.
THE EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE
Fish ball noodles: another local food which people consistently rated more negatively. The majority of nutritionists (68%) rated as healthy vs only 43% of people.
Prawn dumplings: unexpectedly, only 39% of people felt this traditional delicacy was healthy against 56% of nutritionists
Low fat milk: nearly 30% rated it as unhealthy while nutritionists almost unanimously felt otherwise. Only 1 across the entire sample of experts rated it as unhealthy.
Cara F. a 26 y/o marketing professional and one representative of the general public surveyed said, ‘Knowing what’s healthy or unhealthy is everything but easy. It takes a lot of time to look behind every pack at the small print for the nutritional information. Also there are so many contradicting opinions that is impossible to follow a logic. So, I just eat everything in moderation.’
Gonzalo Olivera, from Food For Real said, ‘People want to eat healthy, but they are unsure about what to choose. Nutrition is a science in constant evolution, foods that were once considered bad are not that bad now and vice versa. This study shows that the ever-changing and confusing information has made nutritional facts really hazy in the consumer’s mind; this is something which needs to be solved.’