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Oily fish consumption in young adults: current intakes, knowledge, barriers and motivations

Adolphus, K and Baic, S (2011) Oily fish consumption in young adults: current intakes, knowledge, barriers and motivations. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 24 (4). 375 - 376 (1). ISSN 1365-277X


Background:  Long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) play an important role in the prevention of many health problems, including cardiovascular disease, mental health issues such as depression and neurological malformations during foetal growth. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends that adults should consume at least two portions of fish per week, one of which (approximately 140 g) should be oily, although there be safe upper levels for intake (SACN, 2004). Despite dietary recommendations, recent surveys suggest only one in four adults eat oily fish regularly and that the average intake in consumers is only 45g week-1, approximately one-third of a portion (Bates et al., 2010). This study aimed to improve understanding of the knowledge, motivations, barriers and information access regarding oily fish in young adults in whom dietary habits may still be developing to inform methods for increasing consumption. Methods:  A self-administered cross-sectional survey was used to collect data from students at the University of Bristol [n = 112, mean (SD) age 20.9 (2.6) years, 75% female]. The survey was developed from two previously validated questionnaires to assess current fish intake, knowledge, motivations, barriers and information access in relation to oily fish consumption . The survey was delivered via the University of Bristol Online Survey system. A chi-squared test was used to test for differences between groups and Spearman's rank correlation coefficient was used to identify associations. Alpha was set at <0.05. Results:  Only 36.6% of participants met the dietary recommendation of eating ≥1 portion of oily fish per week. Where oily fish was eaten, the average portion size was below recommended levels at 106 g. A large proportion of participants lacked specific awareness of the intake recommendations (48.8%) and safe upper levels for women (68.8%) and men (70.5%). Neither the frequency of consumption of oily fish, nor the meeting the dietary recommendation significantly differed by overall knowledge level (χ2 = 18.166, d.f. = 15, P = 0.254; χ2 = 1.913, d.f. = 3, P = 0.591, respectively). The main motivational drivers for fish consumption were liking the taste (77.3%) and knowing the associated health benefits (69.1%). The perceived high price (36.8%), unpleasant smell (38.9%) and dislike of taste (30.5%) were the main reported barriers to consuming oily fish. Other key barriers included a dislike of bones (21.5%) and difficulty with preparation and cooking (19.6%). A dislike of the taste was strongly negatively associated with consumption behaviour (r = -0.372, P = 0.004). Wholly or partially following a vegetarian diet was negatively associated with fish consumption and in turn n-3 PUFA intake (r = -0.286, P = 0.31). The types of information participants said they would most like to receive on fish were recipes (38.4%), details of health benefits (30.4%) and tips on cooking and preparation methods (29.5%). Online routes such as e-mail prompts were the preferred channel of communication for this information. Discussion:  Lack of awareness of the dietary recommendations and health benefits of fish has also been noted in previous studies (Burger, 2008). Previous studies have also reported similar barriers to oily fish consumption (Jones & Cornu, 1994). Together, these findings indicate a need to increase understanding of specific key issues around oily fish intake in young people. They suggest a value of health promotion strategies including electronic routes, that address cost, taste, smell, convenience and preparation and cooking issues including recipes and vegetarian sources of n-3 PUFA alternatives. Conclusions:  Oily fish consumption in young people may be facilitated by using electronic methods to target barriers to consumption, gaps in knowledge and awareness around fish consumption.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Oily fish, Omega 3, polyunstaurated fatty acid, young adults, coronary heart disease, dietary intake, docosahexanoic acid, eicosapentanoic acid
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Medicine and Health (Leeds) > School of Psychology (Leeds) > Biological Psychology (Leeds)
Depositing User: Symplectic Publications
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2011 10:47
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2014 03:52
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-277X.2011.01177_1...
Status: Published
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons Inc
Refereed: Yes
Identification Number: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2011.01177_1.x
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/43300

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