Researchers from Aarhus University, Denmark, and the European Food Information Council (EUFIC) have analysed socio-demographic and attitudinal determinants of nutrition knowledge of food shoppers from six European countries.
Respondents were recruited in major supermarkets in three regions of each country.
Overall, the UK had the highest nutrition knowledge, which was expected due to its number of nutrition education campaigns.
One exception was knowledge about the sugar content of foods, which was higher in Germany, Hungary, and Poland.
The results from the at-home questionnaire showed that 97% knew that health experts recommend eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, but only 15% thought that a high amount of starchy foods should be eaten.
Most shoppers knew that foods and drinks high in fat, sugar, and salt should be consumed less often, but many thought these should be avoided all together.
UK respondents were the most knowledgeable about calorie content of selected foods and drinks. When asked how many calories were in a stated portion size, they answered 50% of the questions right while other countries answered 30-40% right.
Most believed that health experts recommend consuming less salt or sodium, but 14% indicated that they didn’t understand the meaning of sodium.
Social grade, country, and age seem to directly influence nutrition knowledge. Attitude towards healthy eating and use of expert sources had a small effect on nutrition knowledge.
Older people, women, and those of higher social grades had a higher active interest in healthy eating, also known as monitoring.
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