The challenges that health professionals face

Health professionals face a challenging climate where information about the value and benefits of healthy foods is complicated by unqualified health influencers, pseudo-science and a highly competitive market for health information. Health professionals such as GPs, dentists and dietitians are increasingly required to provide advice about healthy eating habits while acknowledging people’s deep emotional connection with food and the factors that influence food choices.

Health professionals are often inundated with nutrition information from multiple sources and it is challenging to find the time to keep abreast of the latest research on dietary recommendations relating to specific age groups and genders.

The Australian Dietary Guidelines is a comprehensive resource providing advice on eating for health and wellbeing that was updated in 2013. However, promotion of the new Australian Dietary Guidelines to health professionals has been limited, making it difficult for those professionals to quickly access and provide patients with useful dietary advice.

According to tracking research conducted by Dairy Australia, health professionals would like more education and training on dietary guidelines information. The Foods That Do Good program was developed to help fulfil that need.

Obesity also continues to be a global health issue. The World Health Organization is set to release a new report in 2016 called Ending childhood obesity. A key statement underpinning this report exemplifies the need for understandable and accessible public health messaging:

‘It is not sufficient for nutrient labelling or simple codes such as traffic light labels or health star ratings. All governments must lead in developing and disseminating appropriate and context-specific food-based dietary guidelines for both adults and children. The necessary information should be provided through media and educational outlets and public health messaging in ways that reach all segments of the population, such that society is empowered to make healthier choices.’

Foods That Do Good presents evidence-based public health messaging to assist health professionals empower Australians to make healthier choices.