Nutrition Experts Are Full of SHIT

As a big fitness/nutrition geek, I am constantly consuming the latest information on how to improve the health of our overweight & inactive society.

And when it comes to improving public health, the nutrition experts are forever saying that it all comes down to education.

If only “they” could teach “us” how to…

  • Eat healthier
  • Move healthier
  • Live healthier

…we would all take that knowledge…and stop eating junk food while watching re-runs of  Here Comes Honey Boo Boo.

Too bad they’re full of shit.

In this new study, researchers presented 124 test with a fake food buffet consisting of 55 replica food items.

buffet experiment1 1024x485 Nutrition Experts Are Full of SHIT

  • Participants in the control group were instructed to serve themselves a meal, as they would normally eat from the given selections.
  • Participants in the instruction group were asked to select a healthy, balanced meal.
  • People in the instruction + information group were also instructed to select a healthy meal, but in addition, they received nutrition information based on the Swiss Food Guide Pyramid.

The results?

  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group reduced their consumption of sweets & desserts.
  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group increased their consumption of fruit.
  • No other food categories (including vegetables) were significantly altered.
  • There was very little caloric difference between the meals of all 3 groups
  • Both the instruction group AND the instruction + information group perceived their meals as healthy
  • The control group perceived their meal as less healthy
  • All 3 groups considered their chosen meals equally tasty

meals 1024x273 Nutrition Experts Are Full of SHIT

Their Conclusions

  1. When people aim to prepare a healthy meal, they replace dessert with fruit.
  2. Nutritional information on portion sizes fails to increase the amount of vegetables in a meal
  3. People, who were asked to choose a healthy meal, chose meals that they perceived as similarly tasty.

My Conclusions

  1. We like to eat tasty food…and most of us are not willing to abandon yummy to get healthy.
  2. We already know which foods are healthy and which are unhealthy
  3. We need more nutrition motivation and less nutrition education.

So, where do we go from here?

  • How do we motivate ourselves to eat healthier???

That’s the billion dollar question. I’m still waiting on an answer from the nutrition experts.

Reference

Doug Robb is a personal trainer, a fitness blogger and author, a competitive athlete, a social media nerd and a student of nutrition and exercise science. Since 2008, Doug has brought his real-world experience online via his health & fitness blog, Health Habits.

2 Comments

  1. Lorne Marr

    October 22, 2012 at 5:54 am

    Hello Doug! Thank you for your article. I must say that from my experience people still do need nutrition education. However, it may very well be that the majority needs motivation rather than education. I believe that one of the successful ways of motivating people is to confront them with consequences of unhealthy diets. As it is with many other things, unless one sees not just talks about consequences, it is unlikely one will change anything. So my suggestion would be to educate people about long-term consequences, and what is more important to show what it may look like. Here one could really use the power of the visual for a good cause. This could be much more efficient in triggering the change rather than abstract talking about serious consequences of unhealthy eating habits.

  2. johanleech

    October 17, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Hi Doug

    Great post. I think although that is a small study it is definitely indicative of the problem we face today in most societies.
    I think to eat healthier we need look at our own personal relationship with food and our own lifestyle habits.
    Meaningful change will only occur one thing at a time, so our focus should be on one change, rather than many.
    Everyone knows what to eat and what not to eat, but they lack the desire to change, or willpower to sustain that change.
    There are definitely populations that still benefit from nutrition knowledge (such as the indigenous communities where I work as a dietitian – many did not get complete education), but overall its about influencing behaviour change that will see results.
    Unfortunately helping people change their habits is so tough, and thats our job!
    What did we sign up for?

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