April 30, 2020

An article “Knowledge and Perceptions of Carbohydrates among Nutrition-Major and Nutrition-Elective Undergraduate Students in Canada” was recently published with Open Access in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. The article features results of surveys distributed to undergraduate students enrolled in food science or nutrition courses at eight Canadian universities between January 2016 and February 2017. Students provided written informed consent prior to completing the anonymous survey. The surveys assessed students’ knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions related to carbohydrates (including sugars), metabolism, and health, as well as common sources from which students obtained nutrition information. Results were compared between students enrolled in a nutrition program and those taking a nutrition course as an elective.

Findings from this study highlight the importance of the skills needed to scrutinize and critically evaluate nutrition information from various nonacademic sources and challenge personal beliefs, while identifying methods and opportunities throughout food science and nutrition curricula to help students bridge knowledge gaps.

Main observations include:

  • Internet-based sources accounted for one-third of the sources where students obtained nutrition information; academic sources ranked second at approximately 27%; nutrition-major students were more likely to use academic sources as compared to nutrition-elective students (see figure below).
  • Students who indicated more credible sources where they obtained nutrition information had a higher number of carbohydrate-related knowledge questions answered correctly; no difference was observed for sugars-related knowledge questions.
  • A higher percentage of nutrition-majors correctly answered knowledge questions related to carbohydrates compared to nutrition-elective students; no difference was observed between the two groups for sugars-related knowledge questions.
  • Perceptions and attitudes towards sugars were generally negative and did not differ between nutrition-major and nutrition-elective students.

To read the full paper, it is available for free download from the Journal of the American College of Nutrition.

Another recent paper published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research reports survey results on “Knowledge of Sugars Consumption and the WHO Sugars Guideline among Canadian Dietitians and Other Health Professionals”.

 

Upcoming webinar series on how to critically evaluate systematic reviews and meta-analyses

One important tool to help critically evaluate nutrition information when reading about research in the media is to follow the hierarchy of scientific evidence. The Canadian Nutrition Society is offering a two-part webinar series* on June 3 and June 10 on how to read and critically evaluate systematic reviews and meta-analyses (which provides the highest level of scientific evidence), presented by Dr. Laura Chiavaroli (University of Toronto).

*The webinars are sponsored by the Canadian Sugar Institute, Nutrition Information Service.

To register for the free webinars, please visit:

Part 1: https://www.cns-scn.ca/events/2020/06/03/introduction-to-systematic-reviews-meta-analyses-how-to-critically-evaluate-and-assess-your-confidence-in-srma-data-part-1

Part 2: https://www.cns-scn.ca/events/2020/06/10/introduction-to-systematic-reviews-meta-analyses-how-to-critically-evaluate-and-assess-your-confidence-in-srma-data-part-2