Healthcare professionals most trusted source of information on health and diet

By June Shannon Heart News   |   13th Mar 2018

Healthcare professionals are the most trusted source of information on health and diet however a small minority of people also rely on social media sites, a new survey has revealed.

According to Sign of the Times 2018 – the 9th annual review of trends in Ireland by Behaviour and Attitudes market research company, healthcare professionals such as GPs and dietitians are the most trusted source for information on health and diet with 82 per cent of adults citing them as a trusted source.

The survey revealed that 60 per cent of Irish adults have “complete trust” in their healthcare professional (e.g. GP, dietitian) as a source of health and diet information while 22 per cent reported to have “some trust” in them.

The second most trusted source of information on health and diet was a nutritionist with 79 per cent of Irish adults reporting to trust this source, while the third most trusted source according to the survey, was documentaries at 66 per cent.

Respondents were asked to rate how much they trusted a number of named sources of information on diet and health on a scale of 1-5. These included healthcare professionals e.g. GPs and dietitians, nutritionists, TV programmes, personal trainers and social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

Commenting on the findings Sarah Noone, Registered Dietitian MINDI, with The Irish Heart Foundation said she was pleased to see that people cited healthcare professionals such as dietitians and GPs as the most trusted source for information on health and diet.

“Dietitians are the only legally regulated nutrition professionals in the Ireland and must complete a four-year degree as a minimum requirement. They provide diet and nutrition advice based only on the most up-to-date evidence and report to a governing body CORU which is responsible for the regulation of health and social care professionals in Ireland,” she said.

The survey also revealed that one in five, or 20 per cent of Irish adults said that they would trust the social media site Facebook as a source of information on health and diet, 15 per cent expressed trust in Twitter and Instagram for this information and 28 per cent would trust an online blog.

According to Ms Noone, “unfortunately, there are many people claiming to be ‘nutrition experts’ who are unqualified.  Unfortunately, for those who use the services of these unqualified ‘nutrition practitioners’, the advice or therapy provided may be ineffective, inappropriate and potentially unsafe.

Following diet and nutrition advice that is not based on sound research and evidence is less likely to be effective and can pose a threat to your health and may cause severe harm.

If you follow unsafe dietary advice, you may become deficient in key nutrients, which can lead to various issues such a fatigue, weak bones, malnutrition or worse. This is why it is so important to make sure you get advice from a properly trained professional such as a registered dietitian.”

The survey which was published recently also looked at trends in relation to wellbeing in the workplace and it found that stress and long working hours followed by workplace injuries were the main health concerns at work expressed by employees.

Despite this just one in four have ever discussed a health and wellbeing concern with their employer meaning that the vast majority or 75 per cent have never done so.

The reasons why employees did not discuss their health concerns with their employers included: embarrassment, a lack of support/understanding, fear of jeopardising future careers and fears of being treated differently or colleagues finding out.

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