Nutrition research, like any kind of research, is cumulative. Building on a body of scientific evidence sometimes means challenging previously held assumptions, and then adapting hypotheses to shift the conversation accordingly.
However, it can get confusing. According to a survey of 2,000 consumers in the U.K., U.S., Spain, and Australia, conducted by New Nutrition Business, 79% of respondents said they find messages surrounding health, food and nutrition confusing. “Online sources are their go-to place for dietary information, where they often find contradictory advice,” said Joana Maricato, research manager at New Nutrition Business. “So they pick and choose a dietary pattern that they believe suits them best and craft their own eating style.”
Meanwhile, the Center for Food Integrity recently found that consumers simply don’t trust food companies. “The potential fallout is serious and we’re already witnessing consequences in the food system as public interest in food production and processing grows,” said Charlie Arnot, CEO of CFI. “A lack of trust can result in increased pressure for additional oversight and regulations, rejection of products or information, and consumers seeking alternate, and perhaps unreliable, information sources.”
While dietary supplement users seem to trust that the products they buy are safe and efficacious, when it comes to getting information about health and wellness, most people rely on the Internet, and as we all know, navigating the worldwide web of (mis)information can be exhausting and precarious. Compounding the problem, there’s an anti-science movement led by misinformed influencers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Vani Hari who seem to have cult-like followings.
Given this backdrop to today’s marketplace for nutritional products and dietary supplements, it’s more important than ever to engage with healthcare practitioners and providers. People don’t trust food companies; but they trust their doctor. Unfortunately, most traditional MDs don’t get very much nutritional education. Engaging them and building transparency into your business model could pay dividends for your business and for consumers, while also bridging the trust gap.