YOUNG or healthy people are less likely to use the Heart Foundation’s tick of approval to make food choices in the supermarket, according to a study conducted by CQUniversity.
Healthy food researcher from CQUniversity, Dr Susan Williams, said the survey of 1435 adult Australians conducted in late 2009 revealed the tick program was rarely used by younger people and those who had not been previously diagnosed with a chronic health condition.
“Overall, 76% of those surveyed said they looked for the tick at least occasionally and more females than males looked for the tick,” Dr Williams said.
“However our study also showed that more Australians never looked for the tick than those who regularly use the tick.
“The males who frequently looked for the tick were almost twice as likely to be overweight or obese, more than three times more likely to have been diagnosed with coronary heart disease, and nearly twice as likely to have been diagnosed with hypertension.”
The study also showed females who frequently looked for the tick were three times more likely to be over-65 and more likely to live in a rural area or town.
Of those who never use the tick, 41% said they never looked for dietary symbols or logos to make choices with grocery items, 10% said they did not trust the symbol or organisation, while 4% considered themselves healthy and did not need to worry about diet.
“Overall, this study highlights that the use of food product signposting (such as the Heart Foundation Tick) currently has a limited market. More promotion of the preventative health benefits of choosing foods with the Heart Foundation Tick may promote greater use by those without chronic disease and in younger age groups,” Dr Williams said. “More research is required to better understand how to promote the use of food product signposting across the lifespan.”
The CQUniversity study of the Heart Foundation Tick aimed to understand the effectiveness of this institutionalised and publicly identified health message program in terms of food choice and healthy nutrition.
The survey also included a range of questions about demographics, health and diagnoses of chronic health conditions and other food intake behaviours.
The study revealed that only 12% of those studied ate at least two serves of fruit a day, 59% always added salt to their food after cooking and 47% consumed takeaway foods more than once per week. Dr Williams said the results highlighted many Australians were struggling to meet the dietary guidelines.
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