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Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Jun;65(6 Suppl):1974S-1979S.

Consumers' expectations about nutrition guidance: the importance of primary care physicians.

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Dairy Foundation on Nutrition and Health, Maarssen, Netherlands.


To clarify the role of the primary care physician (PCP) in providing nutrition information to the public, we investigated in a random sample of Dutch consumers their referral to 11 nutrition information sources including the PCP, their perceived expertise of these sources, their interest in nutrition information, and their nutritional attitudes and beliefs. Factor analysis over these 11 sources of nutrition information resulted in two factors: noncommercial sources (alpha = 0.70) and commercial sources (alpha = 0.78). Respondents' referral to and perceived expertise on a five-point scale of noncommercial sources was higher than for commercial sources [respectively, 54% compared with 21%, P < 0.0001, and 3.9 +/- 0.6 compared with 2.7 +/- 0.6 (mean +/- SD), P < 0.01]. The individual Spearman correlation coefficient between referral scores and perceived expertise was p = 0.35 +/- 0.36 (mean +/- SD). For most sources, referral to that source was dependent on a higher interest in information about a healthy diet and on perceived expertise of the source. There were three leading noncommercial sources: the PCP, the dietitian, and the Netherlands Food and Nutrition Education Bureau (FNEB). Careful analysis revealed that because of their high referral scores, high perceived expertise, and reach to nearly all segments of the population, PCPs are in a unique position compared with dietitians and the FNEB.

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