June 01, 2017

Food Fads Confuse Kiwis

A survey into the nutritional knowledge and habits of Kiwis has found half of New Zealanders are confused by food trends and an overload of diet information.*

The survey of 1,055 New Zealanders, undertaken on behalf of Fonterra looked into people’s understanding of dairy nutrition and the role of protein. The survey uncovered some interesting insights as to where we get our nutritional information from, who we trust, and just how much we understand. Results found that 74% of Kiwis believe protein is important for their health, but only 11% say they know how much protein they need in a day. Of the 11%, the answers ranged from 5g to 1,200g per day as the amount required for optimal health.

Fonterra’s General Manager of Nutrition, Angela Rowan, says, “As Kiwis we have access to an amazing array of fresh high quality and locally produced protein sources, however, it would appear we’re all a bit confused about just how much protein we need to be at our best and how we can include protein in our diet.” “To be fair to people, the amount of protein we each need depends on our age, gender, and physical activity levels. But as a guide, we should be aiming to get between 15-25% of our energy from protein, so for someone consuming around 2,000 calories (8,360kJ) across the course of the day, they should be getting somewhere in the range of 75g – 120g of protein per day.”

There was also confusion around what foods contain protein and the best way to consume protein; 54% of respondents said protein should be consumed only once a day, or less. “Protein is very important, but more than half of the people surveyed didn’t realise that protein should be consumed throughout the day for optimum health. While nutrients like fat and carbohydrate can be stored in our bodies and easily dipped into, protein is only stored as muscle, so if protein is not available, muscle mass will be broken down to supply it. This is why it’s ideal to consume protein regularly in smaller amounts throughout the day and stay topped up, rather than having it as a single large portion at night,” says Angela.

While most respondents generally had a good grasp of most food groups that are rich in protein, Kiwis largely underestimated dairy as a source of protein. “When asked to rank the protein content of foods from highest to lowest, survey respondents placed a glass of milk near the bottom, believing it contained less protein than 1 egg or ½ a cup of lentils. In reality, it actually sits above these foods in terms of protein content, and this is something we would like to make more people aware of,” she says.

Dairy is a high quality, readily available, and affordable source of protein. Dairy can provide a convenient source of protein especially in the morning and at lunchtime. “Popping a scoop of yoghurt on your muesli, having a latte for morning tea, and a few slices of cheese for afternoon tea are all easy ways to help spread your protein intake throughout the day,” says Angela.

See below for more information on Fonterra

If you’d like more detailed information on the survey (including demographic and regional data) or to talk to one of Fonterra’s nutrition team, please contact:

Paul Gunn on 027 440 9964 / Paul.Gunn@colensobbdo.co.nz

Ellen Comber on 021 104 2122 / Ellen.Comber@colensobbdo.co.nz

Emma Wooster on 021 222 9032 / Emma.Wooster@fonterra.com

About the survey

*Fonterra commissioned a survey through Perceptive Research in May 2017. A total of 1,055 New Zealanders aged 18 and over took part in the survey, with respondents representing a range of demographic groups from across the country. Survey respondents positioned themselves into the following groups: fitness focussed, health conscious, family first, time poor, life is for living, a creature of habit and budget restricted.

Other key survey findings

  • Only 9.8% of Kiwis enjoy trying food trends and eating plans, with the majority feeling overwhelmed by or disinterested in them. Survey results found that 40.8% don’t follow food trends, 30.7% just don’t give them much attention at all and 18.7% find there are too many food trends to know which to follow.
  • 69% of respondents who claimed to be “fitness focussed” trusted the advice of nutritionists when it came to diet, with only 24% of this group trusting their doctor.
  • Compared with people identifying with other lifestyle groups surveyed (family-orientated, timepoor, budget restricted etc.), fitness focussed people were also more than twice as likely to trust social media (18% - compared with only 8.5% on average for other groups), bloggers (13% - compared with only 5% on average for the other groups) and celebrities (15% - compared with only 1% on average for the other groups).
  • Millennials (25-34yo) are twice as likely (14%) to follow diet trends compared with their baby boomer counterparts (only 6% of 55 – 64yo follow diet trends).
  • Survey results show elderly least likely to know how much protein they need. The millennial group (25 – 34 year olds) were most likely to know, with 16% saying they knew how many grams were required in a day, however those aged 55 and over were the least likely, with only 7% saying they knew their daily protein requirements.

Perceived ranking vs actual ranking of protein content of foods

Survey respondents were asked to rank a range of foods in order of what they thought was each food’s protein content, from the highest level of protein to the lowest level of protein. The table below illustrates respondents perceived ranking of protein content and the actual ranking of the food’s protein content.