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Public Health Nutr. 2001 Aug;4(4):913-8.

Is the link between nutrients and foods understood? The case of fibre and folate.

Author information

  • 1Gadi Research Centre, University of Canberra, Australia. cashel@science.canberra.edu.au.



To assess and contrast awareness of the link between dietary fibre and folate and their major food sources (fruit, vegetables, bread and cereals).


Mailed questionnaire investigating changes made to dietary intake of fibre, folate, fruit, vegetables, bread and cereals in the previous six months.


The survey was conducted between June and November 1998 in the Australian Capital Territory.


One thousand one hundred and twenty-six adults randomly selected from the electoral roll.


More women than men in both older (50+ years) and younger (18-49 years) age groups reported increasing their consumption of folate, fibre, fruit and vegetables in the prior six months. In contrast, more men than women reported increased consumption of bread, cereals, rice and pasta in the previous six months. For food categories and fibre, less than 4% of respondents were unsure about changes in these food habits. However, 26% of men and women were 'not sure' about changes to folate intake. Similar proportions of men and women (about 33%) reported consuming more fruit, vegetables or cereal-based foods over the prior six months, yet only 6% of these men and 14% of these women reported consuming more folate. In contrast, 44% of men and 51% of women who reported consuming more plant foods also reported consuming more dietary fibre.


The results suggested that subjects, particularly the younger age group, had a poor understanding of the relationship between folate intake and its major food sources. The understanding of the relationship between fibre intake and its food sources appeared substantial, but confusion about specific food sources was still evident. These outcomes question the effectiveness of nutrition education used to date, particularly for the current priority of increasing folate intake in younger women in the new, 'health claims' environment.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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