Despite the ever-increasing number of dietary recommendations that have emerged in recent years from international institutions, people's dietary habits have barely improved. To explain this curious phenomenon, we need to better understand the factors that affect adherence to these recommendations – a methodological approach that will be outlined by Jacynthe Lafrenière, a doctoral candidate at Université de Laval in Canada.
When interpreting the recommendations raises questions
Most health surveys confirm the gap between nutritional recommendations and changes in consumer dietary behaviour. Ultimately, two major problems arise: a lack of understanding and confusing messages. What if the real problem is not the consumer, but further upstream? Indeed, according to Jacynthe Lafrenière, it seems essential first of all to improve existing food evaluation methods, very few of which have been the subject of any real scientific scrutiny.
Hence the focus of her research at the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods at Université de Laval in Quebec. The strategies she deploys involve direct observation of food intake, comparison with reported intake and comparison of intake with blood markers of vegetable and fruit consumption. This new tool is currently being assessed with a cohort of 1,000 subjects from 5 different cities in the province of Quebec. It enables the evaluation of eating habits according to recommendations with smaller margins of error.
Jacynthe has also developed a screening tool to identify food choices that are predictive of good nutritional quality. The objective is to make these two tools available to health professionals to improve the anamnesis and dietary recommendations. The details of her methodological approach will be given in the course of her presentation.
About Jacynthe Lafrenière
Jacynthe Lafrenière is a nutritionist and doctoral candidate at the Institute of Nutrition and Functional Foods at Université Laval. She is involved in research to improve nutrition practices and to optimise clinical interventions.
She is currently working on a research programme funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on adherence to nutritional recommendations as part of a multidisciplinary team. Her project focuses on the development and validation of new tools for measuring food intake and nutritional quality.