Nutrition Foundation call for ‘old-school’ common sense

Wednesday , 24 February 2016 by Aimee Bourke

A quick news search will confirm what many of us see on a day to day basis – a glut of differing diet advice, confusing and contradictory expert opinions, and celebrity ‘tips and tricks’ to help shed extra weight.

But what we need is the old-school common sense that worked wonders for previous generations says Nutrition Foundation Dietician Sarah Hanrahan.

Research from Southern Cross Healthcare Group showed a lot of people rely on news, TV shows and radio shows for their diet advice.

  • 54% got diet advice from newspapers or online
  • 41% had friends, family or colleagues give them diet advice.
  • 38% listen to the nutritional advice from TV shows
  • 13% say they picked up diet tips from the radio

“Unfortunately people these days get their advice from a variety of news-bites,” says Nutrition Foundation Dietician Sarah Hanrahan.

“When people use this info hoping to improve their health, or think it’ll help them lose weight they’re bound to be disappointed. New Zealand has a very real, very expensive problem with more than half the population overweight or obese– and misinformation and poor nutrition choices are a big part of this.”

An example of misinformation in practise can be shown in the lack of clarity about good fats.

  • 47% of respondents say they know what good fats are
  • 44% are aware of good fats but don’t know what they are
  • 4% weren’t aware there is a difference between good and bad fats

Instead of cleansing, dieting and limiting what you can and cannot eat, it’s best to have balance says Hanrahan.

“Fads come and go. What most people can actually stick with day-in-day-out is a diet with a variety of foods with an emphasis on sensible portions, green vegetables and lean protein - the common sense your granny would have given you.

“With a flood of contradictory advice coming out on an almost daily basis it’s not surprising people are confused about what to listen to and what to ignore.”

The survey showed that 63% of people say they are more aware of what foods are good and bad for them. Southern Cross Healthcare Group spokesperson Aimee Bourke said this is not surprising given consumers’ desire for instant access to information and the prevalence of health-related topics in the media.

“We certainly encourage people to use quality online medical information to educate and reassure themselves about conditions that they or their loved ones have. However, we would urge caution about relying on advice which may not come from experts and recommend people seek proper medical advice if they have any concerns,” she says.

The Southern Cross survey was conducted by TNS online amongst 2002 randomly selected New Zealanders and was carried out in November 2015.