Habit forming: Helping young people make good diet choices

Amanda Lyons

19/07/2019 1:07:37 PM

A website aims to help young Australians eat better, improve their overall health and reduce the risk of preventable disease as they grow older.

Nutrition advice for young people.
A new website aims to help young people to eat better and improve their health for the long term.

Despite much-vaunted claims that younger consumers are more health-conscious than their elders,  data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that 18–24-year-olds are just as unlikely to eat their vegetables (and fruit) as they ever were, with far less than 5% meeting the Australian dietary guidelines.
According to research conducted by Professor Clare Collins, Professor of Nutrition and Dietetics in the School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medicine at the University of Newcastle, young people can experience many barriers to eating healthily.
‘We have found that during young adulthood there is a lot of change in living arrangements, relationships and employment status,’ she said.
‘There are also a lot of competing time demands for this group, including socialising, study, work, family and parenthood, which can take priority over healthy eating habits.’
It has long been known that a balanced, nutritious diet is a cornerstone of long-term health, and an important factor in helping to prevent chronic disease and early death. But a surfeit of information around diet and nutrition making it difficult to sort good advice from bad, combined with the identified barriers, can hinder young people from developing good eating habits.
‘We know the majority of young Australians seek nutrition advice from friends or via the internet, which can result in a lot of dietary misinformation,’ Professor Collins said.
Such concerns led Professor Collins and her research team to design a website, No Money, No Time, which features a number of resources young people can use to help them develop healthy eating habits, including cheap and easy recipes, nutritional information and articles that distinguish diet fads from evidence-based nutritional advice.
‘This website will deliver credible advice in a format they are familiar with,’ Professor Collins said.
All the information presented on the site is derived from evidence-based guidelines and research developed at the University of Newcastle and the Hunter Medical Research Institute, including its healthy eating quiz, which is designed to help users understand the current quality of their eating, target areas for improvement and tailor solutions to their specific needs.
‘Based on their scores, the user will receive simple but nutritious recipes they can filter according to kitchen equipment, for example microwave or pan, motivators such as to lose weight or improve sports performance, and dietary requirements,’ Dr Lee Ashton, nutrition researcher at the University of Newcastle and co-leader of No Money, No Time research project, said.
‘Scores will also be stored in a personalised dashboard so participants can track their progress and receive continued support over time.’
Researchers are hopeful that the website, which has taken three years to develop, will provide a reliable source of information and motivation to help young people learn and maintain healthy eating behaviours for the long term.
‘It’s really important to provide advice that fits in with their needs and lifestyle,’ Professor Collins said.

Diet Nutrition Young people’s health

newsGP weekly poll Have you noticed a shift in patient sentiment towards paying for general practice care?

newsGP weekly poll Have you noticed a shift in patient sentiment towards paying for general practice care?



Login to comment