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Globally, diet quality is poor, with populations failing to achieve national dietary guidelines. Such failure has been consistently linked with malnutrition and poorer health outcomes. In addition to the impact of diet on health outcomes, it is now accepted that what we eat, and the resulting food system, has significant environmental or planetary health impacts. Changes are required to our food systems to reduce these impacts and mitigate the impact of climate change on our food supply. Given the complexity of the interactions between climate change, food and health, and the different actors and drivers that influence these, a systems-thinking approach to capture such complexity is essential. Such an approach will help address the challenges set by the UN 2030 Agenda for sustainable development in the form of the sustainable development goals (SDG). Progress against SDG has been challenging, with an ultimate target of 2030. While the scientific uncertainties regarding diet and public and planetary health need to be addressed, equal attention needs to be paid to the structures and systems, as there is a need for multi-level, coherent and sustained structural interventions and policies across the full food system/supply chain to effect behaviour change. Such systems-level change must always keep nutritional status, including impact on micronutrient status, in mind. However, benefits to both population and environmental health could be expected from achieving dietary behaviour change towards more sustainable diets.
An increasing number of food-based recommendations promote a plant-based diet to address health concerns and environmental sustainability in global food systems. As the main sources of iodine in many countries are fish, eggs and dairy products, it is unclear whether plant-based diets, such as the EAT-Lancet reference diet, would provide sufficient iodine. This is important as iodine, through the thyroid hormones, is required for growth and brain development; adequate iodine intake is especially important before, and during, pregnancy. In this narrative review, we evaluated the current literature and estimated iodine provision from the EAT-Lancet reference diet. There is evidence that those following a strict plant-based diet, such as vegans, cannot reach the recommended iodine intake from food alone and are reliant on iodine supplements. Using the EAT-Lancet reference diet intake recommendations in combination with iodine values from UK food tables, we calculated that the diet would provide 128 μg/d (85 % of the adult recommendation of 150 μg/d and 51–64 % of the pregnancy recommendation of 200–250 μg/d). However, if milk is replaced with unfortified plant-based alternatives, total iodine provision would be just 54 μg/d (34 % and 22–27 % of the recommendations for adults and pregnancy, respectively). Plant-based dietary recommendations might place consumers at risk of iodine deficiency in countries without a fortification programme and where animal products provide the majority of iodine intake, such as the UK and Norway. It is essential that those following a predominantly plant-based diet are given appropriate dietary advice to ensure adequate iodine intake.
The school food environment (SFE) is an ideal setting for encouraging healthy dietary behaviour. We aimed to develop an instrument to assess whole-SFE, test the instrument in the school setting and demonstrate its use to make food environment recommendations.
SFE literature and UK school food guidance were searched to inform instrument items. The instrument consisted of (i) an observation proforma capturing canteen areas systems, food presentation and monitoring of food intake and (ii) a questionnaire assessing food policies, provision and activities. The instrument was tested in schools and used to develop SFE recommendations. Descriptive analyses enabled narrative discussion.
An observation was undertaken at schools in urban and rural geographical regions of Northern Ireland of varying socio-economic status (n 18). School senior management completed the questionnaire with input from school caterers (n 16).
The instrument captured desired detail and potential instrument modifications were identified. SFE varied. Differences existed between food policies and how policies were implemented and monitored. At many schools, there was scope to enhance physical eating environments (n 12, 67 %) and food presentation (n 15, 83 %); emphasise healthy eating through food activities (n 7, 78 %) and increase parental engagement in school food (n 9, 56 %).
The developed instrument can measure whole-SFE in primary schools and also enabled identification of recommendations to enhance SFE. Further assessment and adaptation of the instrument are required to enable future use as a research tool or for self-assessment use by schools.
Peer support interventions for dietary change may offer cost-effective alternatives to interventions led by health professionals. This process evaluation of a trial to encourage the adoption and maintenance of a Mediterranean diet in a Northern European population at high CVD risk (TEAM-MED) aimed to investigate the feasibility of implementing a group-based peer support intervention for dietary change, positive elements of the intervention and aspects that could be improved. Data on training and support for the peer supporters; intervention fidelity and acceptability; acceptability of data collection processes for the trial and reasons for withdrawal from the trial were considered. Data were collected from observations, questionnaires and interviews, with both peer supporters and trial participants. Peer supporters were recruited and trained to result in successful implementation of the intervention; all intended sessions were run, with the majority of elements included. Peer supporters were complimentary of the training, and positive comments from participants centred around the peer supporters, the intervention materials and the supportive nature of the group sessions. Attendance at the group sessions, however, waned over the intervention, with suggested effects on intervention engagement, enthusiasm and group cohesion. Reduced attendance was reportedly a result of meeting (in)frequency and organisational concerns, but increased social activities and group-based activities may also increase engagement, group cohesion and attendance. The peer support intervention was successfully implemented and tested, but improvements can be suggested and may enhance the successful nature of these types of interventions. Some consideration of personal preferences may also improve outcomes.
Traditional methods of dietary assessment are prone to measurement error, with energy intake often under-reported. The 24-h recall is widely used in dietary assessment, however, its reliance on self-report without verification of consumption can result in inaccuracies in true nutrient intake. Wearable cameras may provide a complementary approach to improve self-report accuracy by providing an objective and passive measure of food consumption. The purpose of the present study was to determine whether a wearable camera improves the accuracy of a 24-h recall compared with a 24-h recall alone in twenty adults aged 18–65 years. The study also explored limitations associated with wearable cameras. Participants wore the camera for 1 d and a 24-h recall was then conducted the following day, before and after viewing the camera images. Dietary data were analysed using Nutritics dietary analysis software, while eating habits were assessed by a self-report questionnaire. Energy and nutrient intakes were compared between the recall alone and the camera-assisted recall. Results showed a significant increase in mean energy intake with the camera-assisted recall compared with the recall alone (9677⋅8 ± 2708⋅0 kJ/d v. 9304⋅6 ± 2588⋅5 kJ/d, respectively, P = 0⋅003). Intakes of carbohydrates, total sugars and saturated fats were also significantly higher with the camera-assisted recall. In terms of challenges, there were occasionally technological issues such as proper positioning of the camera by the participants. In conclusion, reporting of energy and nutrient intake may be enhanced when a traditional method of dietary assessment, the 24-h recall, is assisted by a wearable camera.
Dietary patterns (DP) rich in plant foods are associated with improved health and reduced non-communicable disease risk. In October 2021, the Nutrition Society hosted a member-led conference, held online over 2 half days, exploring the latest research findings examining plant-rich DP and health. The aim of the present paper is to summarise the content of the conference and synopses of the individual speaker presentations are included. Topics included epidemiological analysis of plant-rich DP and health outcomes, the effects of dietary interventions which have increased fruit and vegetable (FV) intake on a range of health outcomes, how adherence to plant-rich DP is assessed, the use of biomarkers to assess FV intake and a consideration of how modifying behaviour towards increased FV intake could impact environmental outcomes, planetary health and food systems. In conclusion, although there are still considerable uncertainties which require further research, which were considered as part of the conference and are summarised in this review, adopting a plant-rich DP at a population level could have a considerable impact on diet and health outcomes, as well as planetary health.
Iodine is required for thyroid hormone synthesis and fetal neurogenesis. Recent population studies in the United Kingdom (UK) have found iodine deficiency among schoolgirls, women of child-bearing age and pregnant women. This review explores knowledge and awareness of iodine among women of child-bearing age and healthcare professionals (HCPs) in the UK, set within a global context. We aimed to identify gaps in iodine knowledge in the current UK setting of iodine deficiency without iodine fortification and where iodine is not included in antenatal guidelines. The search terms ‘iodine knowledge’ and ‘iodine awareness’ were used to identify relevant papers. Iodine knowledge is poor among women of child-bearing age in the UK according to four studies using questionnaires and qualitative methods. They were unsure of dietary sources of iodine and were not consistently provided with relevant information from HCPs during clinical care. Midwives have been recognised as the main providers of dietary information during pregnancy and, although they recognised the importance of their role in providing nutrition advice, they did not feel equipped to do so and lacked confidence in addressing nutritional concerns. Globally, there was a similar lack of knowledge, however, this was somewhat improved by the inclusion of iodine in antenatal care guidelines. Midwives’ knowledge of iodine was poor, as was knowledge among women of child-bearing age. Improved HCP knowledge and effective communication of information to pregnant women and women planning to conceive may help to improve iodine status which is of particular concern in pregnancy.
Beetroot juice (BRJ) has been demonstrated to decrease blood pressure (BP) due to the high inorganic nitrate content. This pilot randomized crossover trial aimed to investigate the effect of two different high nitrate vegetable juices on plasma nitrate concentrations and BP in healthy adults. Eighteen healthy volunteers were randomized to receive 115 ml of BRJ or 250 ml of green leafy vegetable juice for 7 d which contained similar amounts of nitrate (340 mg) daily. Blood samples were collected, and clinic BP measured at baseline and at the end of each juice consumption. Daily home BP assessment was conducted 2 h after juice consumption. Nitrate and nitrite concentrations were analysed using a commercially available kit on a Triturus automated ELISA analyser. Hills and Armitage analysis was used for the two-period crossover design and paired sample t-tests were performed to compare within-group changes. Plasma nitrate and nitrite concentrations significantly increased and there was a significant reduction in clinic and home systolic blood pressure (SBP) mean during the BRJ period (P-values 0⋅004 and 0⋅002, respectively). Home diastolic blood pressure (DBP) reduced significantly during green leafy vegetable juice consumption week (P-value 0⋅03). The difference between groups did not reach statistical significance during the formal crossover analysis adjusted for period effects. BRJ and green leafy vegetable juice may reduce SBP or DBP, but there was no statistically significant difference between the two juices, although this was only a pilot study.
Milk, dairy products, and fish are the main sources of iodine in the UK. Plant-based products are increasingly popular, especially with young women, which may affect iodine intake as they are naturally low in iodine; this is concerning as iodine is required for fetal brain development. We, aimed to (i) assess the iodine fortification of products sold as alternatives to milk, yoghurt, cheese and fish through a cross-sectional survey of UK retail outlets in 2020, and (ii) model the impact of substitution with such products on iodine intake, using portion-based scenarios. We identified 300 products, including plant-based alternatives to: (i) milk (n 146); (ii) yoghurt (n 76); (iii) cheese (n 67) and (iv) fish (n 11). After excluding organic products (n 48), which cannot be fortified, only 28 % (n 29) of milk alternatives and 6 % (n 4) of yoghurt alternatives were fortified with iodine, compared with 88 % (n 92) and 73 % (n 51), respectively, with Ca. No cheese alternative was fortified with iodine, but 55 % were fortified with Ca. None of the fish alternatives were iodine fortified. Substitution of three portions of dairy product (milk/yoghurt/cheese) per day with unfortified alternatives would reduce the iodine provided by 97·9 % (124 v. 2·6 µg) and substantially reduce the contribution to the adult intake recommendation (150 µg/d; 83 v. 1·8 %). Our study highlights that the majority of plant-based alternatives are not iodine fortified and that the use of unfortified alternatives put consumers at risk of iodine deficiency.
This study aimed to evaluate the feasibility of a peer support intervention to encourage adoption and maintenance of a Mediterranean diet (MD) in established community groups where existing social support may assist the behaviour change process. Four established community groups with members at increased Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) risk and homogenous in gender were recruited and randomised to receive either a 12-month Peer Support (PS) intervention (PSG) (n 2) or a Minimal Support intervention (educational materials only) (MSG) (n 2). The feasibility of the intervention was assessed using recruitment and retention rates, assessing the variability of outcome measures (primary outcome: adoption of an MD at 6 months (using a Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS)) and process evaluation measures including qualitative interviews. Recruitment rates for community groups (n 4/8), participants (n 31/51) and peer supporters (n 6/14) were 50 %, 61 % and 43 %, respectively. The recruitment strategy faced several challenges with recruitment and retention of participants, leading to a smaller sample than intended. At 12 months, a 65 % and 76·5 % retention rate for PSG and MSG participants was observed, respectively. A > 2-point increase in MDS was observed in both the PSG and the MSG at 6 months, maintained at 12 months. An increase in MD adherence was evident in both groups during follow-up; however, the challenges faced in recruitment and retention suggest a definitive study of the peer support intervention using current methods is not feasible and refinement based on the current feasibility study should be incorporated. Lessons learned during the implementation of this intervention will help inform future interventions in this area.
Adhering to a Mediterranean diet (MD) is associated with reduced CVD risk. This study aimed to explore methods of increasing MD adoption in a non-Mediterranean population at high risk of CVD, including assessing the feasibility of a developed peer support intervention. The Trial to Encourage Adoption and Maintenance of a MEditerranean Diet was a 12-month pilot parallel group RCT involving individuals aged ≥ 40 year, with low MD adherence, who were overweight, and had an estimated CVD risk ≥ 20 % over ten years. It explored three interventions, a peer support group, a dietician-led support group and a minimal support group to encourage dietary behaviour change and monitored variability in Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS) over time and between the intervention groups, alongside measurement of markers of nutritional status and cardiovascular risk. 118 individuals were assessed for eligibility, and 75 (64 %) were eligible. After 12 months, there was a retention rate of 69 % (peer support group 59 %; DSG 88 %; MSG 63 %). For all participants, increases in MDS were observed over 12 months (P < 0·001), both in original MDS data and when imputed data were used. Improvements in BMI, HbA1c levels, systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the population as a whole. This pilot study has demonstrated that a non-Mediterranean adult population at high CVD risk can make dietary behaviour change over a 12-month period towards an MD. The study also highlights the feasibility of a peer support intervention to encourage MD behaviour change amongst this population group and will inform a definitive trial.
Age-related hearing loss (ARHL) is common and a known risk factor for social disengagement in later life. This study explored social functioning following a diagnosis of ARHL. Using a constructivist grounded theory approach we developed an interview schedule to advance a grounded theory from data collected from six older adults who used either hearing aids or cochlear implants. Interview questions concerned social functioning as well as focusing on their perspective of the impact of ARHL on cognitive functioning. We describe a grounded theory conceived as ‘Reconnecting to Others’. This theory posits that participants faced social challenges in relation to their ARHL, and resolved these challenges partly through the use of hearing aids and cochlear implantation. The theory also emphasises the importance of help from other hearing aid users for new users, and corroborates prior findings about strategies older adults with ARHL use to cope with their hearing impairment in various social situations. Once hearing aids and cochlear implants are used and adapted to with the help of peers, participants completed their journey by helping others who had received diagnoses of ARHL. Additionally, participants spoke of the pleasure of hearing again. Interestingly, no participant felt that their ARHL had impacted their cognitive functioning. Our theory provides a basis for explaining existing quantitative findings as well as creating new hypotheses for future testing.
The MEDDINI intervention study investigated how advice improved the adoption of a Mediterranean diet (MD) in cardiovascular disease patients. Earlier research profiled the levels of blood metabolites in MEDDINI participants, in the process discovering a number dietary biomarkers indicative of a MD. However, a potential limitation of this approach is that MD scores are semi-quantitative, and don't reflect the absolute amounts of food consumed. Therefore, the present study identified distinct dietary patterns based on quantified food diary data from 58 MEDDINI participants by applying k-means clustering analysis. Previously measured blood metabolites (90) using targeted and untargeted methods were then assessed for their performance as dietary biomarkers. After careful standardisation (z-scores), optimisation and cross-validation dietary data were reduced to 6 specific food groups and this led to the formation of two clusters. Cluster 1 included participants who had the lowest intakes of fruit and vegetables, legumes, fish and whole grain cereals and the highest intake of meat and sweet foods (including carbonated drinks). Cluster 2 comprised the participants with highest intake of fruit and vegetables, legumes, fish and whole grain cereals and the lowest intake of meat and sweet foods (including carbonated drinks). Discriminatory metabolites (p derived from untargeted analysis included Citric acid, Tyrosine, Malonate, Pyroglutamic acid, Succinate, Betaine, L-asparagine and Fumaric acid which were significantly increased in cluster 2, and 2-Hydroxybutyric acid and Pyruvic acid which were significantly decreased in cluster 2. Targeted biomarker analysis showed 8 discriminatory metabolites which were significantly (p increased in cluster 2. These were Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), alpha-Carotene, beta-Carotene, beta-Cryptoxanthin, Vitamin C, Lutein, alpha-Linolenic acid and Lycopene. Conversely Osbond acid, Cholesterol and Dihomo-γ-linolenic acid (DGLA) were significantly lower in cluster 2. Metabolites significantly correlated with some of the 6 groups in the clusters. For example, Citric acid, Betaine and Vitamin C positively correlated with combined fruit, fruit juice and vegetable intake: (r = 0.20, p = 0.018; r = 0.20, p = 0.02 and r = 0.34, p = 5.7E-5 respectively). DHA, alpha-Carotenoid and beta-Carotenoid significantly correlated with fish intake (r = 0.58, p = 1.94E-13; r = 0.40, p = 2E-6 and r = 0.30, p = 3.5E-4 respectively). The present study demonstrates the utility of clustering analysis for effectively assessing adherence to healthy dietary patterns and the discovery of novel dietary biomarkers.
Evidence suggests that dietary intake of UK children is currently suboptimal. It is therefore imperative to identify effective and sustainable methods of improving dietary habits and knowledge in this population, whilst also promoting the value of healthiness of food products beyond price. Schools are ideally placed to influence children's knowledge and health, and Project Daire, in partnership with schools, food industry partners and stakeholders, aims to improve children's knowledge of, and interest in, food to improve health, wellbeing and educational attainment.
Daire is a randomised-controlled, factorial design trial evaluating two interventions. In total, n = 880 Key Stage (KS) 1 and 2 pupils have been recruited from 18 primary schools in the North West of Northern Ireland and will be randomised to one of four 6-month intervention arms: i) ‘Engage’, ii) ‘Nourish’, iii) ‘Engage’ and ‘Nourish’ and iv) Delayed. ‘Engage’ is an age-appropriate, cross-curricular educational intervention on food, agriculture, science and careers linked to the current curriculum. ‘Nourish’ is an intervention aiming to alter schools’ food environments and increase exposure to local foods. Study outcomes include food knowledge, attitudes, trust, diet, behaviour, health and wellbeing and will be collected at baseline and six months. Qualitative data on teacher/pupil opinions will also be collected. The intervention phase is currently ongoing. We present baseline results from our involvement and food attitudes measure from all participating schools. Results were compared by Key Stage and sex using Pearson Chi-Squared test.
Baseline results from our food involvement and attitudes measure are presented for n = 880 KS1 (n = 454) and KS2 (n = 426) pupils. KS1 pupils were more likely to always or sometimes help with food shopping (89.0%) whilst KS2 pupils were more likely to always or sometimes help with food preparation (69.0%). A higher proportion of KS1 pupils reported liking to try new foods (66.1%) and that it was important that food looked (64.5%), tasted (71.1%) and smelled good (60.6%) compared with KS2 children (P < 0.01). Girls were more likely to always or sometimes help with food shopping (96.2%) and preparation (73%) when compared with boys; whilst a higher proportion of girls reported they liked to try new foods (48.2%) and that it was important that food looked (68%) smelled (50.5%) and tasted (71.8%) good compared with boys (P < 0.01).
Results suggest that involvement in food preparation and shopping, willingness to try new foods and attitudes towards food presentation varied by KS and sex in this cohort.
Increased fruit and vegetable (FV) intake is associated with reduced blood pressure (BP). However, it is not clear whether the effect of FV on BP depends on the type of FV consumed. Furthermore, there is limited research regarding the comparative effect of juices or whole FV on BP. Baseline data from a prospective cohort study of 10 660 men aged 50–59 years examined not only the cross-sectional association between total FV intake but also specific types of FV and BP in France and Northern Ireland. BP was measured, and dietary intake assessed using FFQ. After adjusting for confounders, both systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) were significantly inversely associated with total fruit, vegetable and fruit juice intake; however, when examined according to fruit or vegetable sub-type (citrus fruit, other fruit, fruit juices, cooked vegetables and raw vegetables), only the other fruit and raw vegetable categories were consistently associated with reduced SBP and DBP. In relation to the risk of hypertension based on SBP >140 mmHg, the OR for total fruit, vegetable and fruit juice intake (per fourth) was 0·95 (95 % CI 0·91, 1·00), with the same estimates being 0·98 (95 % CI 0·94, 1·02) for citrus fruit (per fourth), 1·02 (95 % CI 0·98, 1·06) for fruit juice (per fourth), 0·93 (95 % CI 0·89, 0·98) for other fruit (per fourth), 1·05 (95 % CI 0·99, 1·10) for cooked vegetable (per fourth) and 0·86 (95 % CI 0·80, 0·91) for raw vegetable intakes (per fourth). Similar results were obtained for DBP. In conclusion, a high overall intake of fruit, vegetables and fruit juice was inversely associated with SBP, DBP and risk of hypertension, but this differed by FV sub-type, suggesting that the strength of the association between FV sub-types and BP might be related to the type consumed, or to processing or cooking-related factors.
Dietary behaviour is influenced by a complex web of biological, psychological, physiological, social, economic and cultural factors. Understanding socio-demographic and anthropometric characteristics that influence food choice may be important in guiding dietary interventions. The present study aimed to identify whether socio-demographic and anthropometric characteristics influence food choice in an Irish working population. A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2014 as part of the Food Choice at Work Study, a large clustered non-randomised, controlled trial based in county Cork, Ireland. Information regarding food motives was collected at the 3–4 months follow-up. The ‘Food Choice Questionnaire’ was used to measure food motives. Multiple linear regression was conducted to test the association between socio-demographic and anthropometric characteristics (age, sex, BMI, education, type of accommodation, living situation, marital status, parental status) and worksite and food motives. A total of 678 employees were included in the analysis. Overall, only a small percentage of food choice was influenced by the characteristics included in this analysis (1·6 to 8·8 %). Sensory appeal and satisfaction were scored most important by all sub-populations. Sex was most often associated with differences in food motives (i.e. all food motives except for familiarity and ethical concern were significantly more important to females compared with males; P = 0·001/P < 0·001). Worksite, age, BMI and marital status also seemed to play a small role in influencing food choice. The results show that food choice is complex and not easily explained by differences in socio-demographic or anthropometric population characteristics.
To summarise findings of systematic reviews that distinctively report dietary intervention components and their effects on diet-, health- and economic-related outcomes in the workplace setting.
MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, Web of Science, Cochrane Library and Google Scholar were searched in December 2014 and the search was updated in August 2017.
The search identified 1137 titles, of which nineteen systematic reviews from the initial search and two systematic reviews from the updated search met the inclusion criteria (twenty-one systematic reviews, published in twenty-two papers). Most systematic reviews were of moderate quality and focused on dietary behaviour change outcomes and some health-related biomarkers. Evidence was strongest for interventions to increase fruit and vegetable intake, reduce fat intake, aid weight loss and reduce cholesterol. Few reported workplace-related and evaluation outcomes.
These findings suggest that workplace dietary interventions can positively influence diet and health outcomes. Suggestions for effective interventions components have been made.
The association between dietary patterns (DP) and prevalence of hearing loss in men enrolled in the Caerphilly Prospective Study was investigated. During 1979–1983, the study recruited 2512 men aged 45–59 years. At baseline, dietary data were collected using a semi-quantitative FFQ, and a 7-d weighed food intake (WI) in a 30 % subsample. Five years later, pure-tone unaided audiometric threshold was assessed at 0·5, 1, 2 and 4 kHz. Principal component analysis (PCA) identified three DP and multiple logistic and ordinal logistic regression models examined the association with hearing loss (defined as pure-tone average of frequencies 0·5, 1, 2 and 4 kHz >25 dB). Traditional, healthy and high-sugar/low-alcohol DP were found with both FFQ and WI data. With the FFQ data, fully adjusted models demonstrated significant inverse association between the healthy DP and hearing loss both as a dichotomous variable (OR=0·83; 95 % CI 0·77, 0·90; P<0·001) and as an ordinal variable (OR=0·87; 95 % CI 0·81, 0·94; P<0·001). With the WI data, fully adjusted models showed a significant and inverse association between the healthy DP and hearing loss (OR=0·85; 95 % CI 0·73, 0·99; P<0·03), and a significant association between the traditional DP (per fifth increase) and hearing loss both as a dichotomous variable (OR=1·18; 95 % CI 1·02, 1·35; P=0·02) and as an ordinal variable (OR=1·17; 95 % CI 1·03, 1·33; P=0·02). A healthy DP was significantly and inversely associated with hearing loss in older men. The role of diet in age-related hearing loss warrants further investigation.