Public Perceptions of High Protein Diets
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Background: UK adult protein consumption far exceeds recommendations. Market research suggests a recent enthusiasm for high protein diets, the potential physiological effects of which have been extensively researched. Less understood are consumer views on protein, particularly in high quantities. Methods: Cross-sectional survey of UK adults (n=69) via self-administered questionnaire to explore public perceptions of high protein diets. Results were analysed using Pearson’s Chi Squared test. Results: Participants most commonly valued high protein diets for weight loss (72.4%) and for sports reasons (100%). It was unanimously agreed that protein should be consumed as part of a balanced diet. Most participants disagreed that high protein diets are associated with three named diseases: cancer (47.7%), diabetes (76.8%) and CVD (45.6%). Participants mostly agreed (41.2%) that animal protein was of better quality than plant protein. Omnivores were more likely to agree (62.3%) with this statement than participants who did not eat meat (22.2%). This finding was statistically significant (p=0.002). Participants mostly disagreed (63.2%) that animal protein was healthier than plant protein. Conclusions: Findings from this small scale research offer broad insight to public opinion of high protein diets. Nutritional messages on attaining a balanced protein intake may be required to highlight potential health risks of high protein diets to consumers. Future research using a more qualitative approach may be indicated to further explore the effect of current dietary trends on perceptions of protein and healthy eating
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