A new study finds that just one in four American women initiate conversations with their doctors about nutrition, despite growing evidence of its role in health. Furthermore, 53 per cent of those who visited a doctor in the past year say they do not feel "well-informed" about nutrition.
The findings, from a study by Quaker Oatmeal, contradict statistics that show nutrition can play a major role in maintaining general health and weight management and preventing chronic ailments and diseases. Nutrition also performs a vital role in healthcare during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
At least four of the 10 leading causes of death in the US - heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes - can be directly related to eating habits, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
The study cited a number of reasons for the low levels of understanding among women about nutrition, with the most prevalent explanation (72 per cent) the existence of conflicting information. Others include uncertainty of specific health needs at a certain point in a woman's life, apathy towards the topic and doubt about where to go to get information.
Only one in five women, the study indicated, listed her doctor as the primary source of information about nutrition, indicating that few women are proactive in seeking advice from their doctor. Forty-five per cent said they get their nutrition information from the media (television, newspapers, radio and Internet).
"With the many different nutritional resources available to women, it is easy for women to become confused about their individual needs," said nutritionist Carrie Wiatt. "The best way for women to take control of their nutritional health is to develop a personalised nutrition programme with their physician."
Quaker Oatmeal Nutrition for Women, the cereal formulated with nutrients for women's health, has developed two tools, a Food Guide Pyramid for Women and an online nutritional assessment, aimed at sparking dialogue between women and their doctors.The Food Guide Pyramid for Women helps women make sense of the traditional Food Guide Pyramid by focusing on women's specific needs for essential nutrients like calcium, iron, folate, fibre and soy. The nutrition assessment will enable women to determine how their current eating habits match up to the recommendations. Both tools are available at www.quakeroatmeal.com/nutritionforwomen.