Cross-sectional study on the Nutritional Awareness of Plant-based Diets and Associated Attitudes in Vegetarians, Vegans and Omnivores in South Wales
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background - There is currently an incomplete picture of nutritional awareness of plant-based diets within the UK. Without an understanding of this nutritional awareness amongst different dietary groups, it will be difficult to initiate strategies that help enable the public to obtain the possible benefits of plant-based diets, or to minimise any of their associated risks. Methods - Cross-sectional study using a pre-validated general knowledge questionnaire adapted to plant-based nutrition, assessing knowledge and attitudes amongst vegans (n=29), vegetarians (n=14) and omnivores (n=24). Participants were recruited via online social media and convenience sampling. Nutritional knowledge scores were scored out of 52. Results – Mean nutritional knowledge scores were highest in vegans (37.74, Standard Deviation [SD]=2.73), followed by vegetarians (34.14, SD=6.21), and lastly omnivores (32.84, SD=4.79). These differences were statistically significant (p=0.001). The most frequently cited thematic health problems possibly avoided by and attributable to plant-based diets by each group were in line with current evidence. Vegans were found to have the most positive attitude to plant-based diets and the most negative attitude to meat-containing diets. Omnivores demonstrated the opposite trend. Statistically significant, medium positive correlations were found between nutritional knowledge scores and positive attitudes towards plant-based diets (Spearman’s r=0.390, p=0.001), as well as negative attitudes towards meat-containing diets (Spearman’s r=0.468, p<0.001). Conclusion – Although this study adds to the limited evidence base within this area, further research is required. Initial findings indicate public education is required for all dietary groups, but especially omnivores, to improve awareness levels of both the nutritional sufficiency of plant-based diets and their related health benefits.
BSc (Hons) Human Nutrition and Dietetics
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