Poster Presentation Australian & New Zealand Obesity Society 2014 Annual Scientific Meeting

Misperceptions about dairy foods and weight – are their differences between consumers and health professionals?  (#237)

Roxanne Portolesi 1 , Fotini Bakas 1 , Melissa Cameron 1
  1. Dairy Australia, Southbank, VIC, Australia

The Australian Dietary Guidelines (ADGs) provide Australians with a dietary approach to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of chronic diseases associated with excess weight.  Yet confusion persists in both general and health professional communities on the foods to include in a balanced diet to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.  A systematic review of the relationship between foods and weight status informed the ADGs, which reports milk, cheese and yogurt are not associated with overweight and obesity in adults.  With approximately 80% of adults are not meeting the ADG dairy food group recommendations, the challenge is in communicating the evidence and the guidelines.  Two quantitative online surveys were conducted in Australian adults (n=1,635, 810 males) and General Practitioners (GPs) (n=300, 180 males) in March and April 2014, respectively, to understand nutrition attitudes and perceptions. The general population survey was stratified by geography, age and sex and GPs were similar to the Australian GP population for age, gender and state distribution.  The survey revealed 30% of Australian adults were concerned consuming milk, cheese and yogurt could increase their weight.  GPs gave nutrition advice in 31% (SEM 1.4) of consultations, with 42% of GPs advising their patients to reduce their intake of dairy foods based primarily on concerns about lactose intolerance, obesity or over consumption of dairy foods. The surveys reveal both consumers and healthcare professionals share similar misperceptions on the relationship between milk, cheese and yogurt and weight status.  Advising patients to avoid a core food group, dairy foods, in light of the strong evidence underpinning their inclusion in the ADGs has the potential to exacerbate current shortfalls in consumption of milk, cheese and yogurt and/or their alternatives.