Nutrition Education in Society - A Forefront of Awareness

Nutrition Education in Society - A Forefront of Awareness?

Iman Kashif - 13 August 2021

Nutrition education is often reduced to a college discipline, diploma, or university degree, but the importance of such education within the general public is incredibly relevant. Increased diet awareness can aid in improved physical health, lessen the prevalence of poor diet-caused diseases, alleviate stress on the healthcare system, and create lasting healthy, active lifestyles.

Starting in the Classroom

Primary and secondary school provides the most effective setting to deliver the knowledge to a large and impressionable audience. According to the CDC, students in the U.S. receive fewer than eight hours of nutritional education every year. The recommended amount of hours of educational instruction to implement behaviour change range from 40-50 hours per year, displaying the need for an increase in dietary education in an official capacity. Dietary education can take many forms in the classroom; such as learning about cultural food components, examining nutritional value scales on food items, field trips to grocery stores or farms, etc. With so many benefits, an increase in nutrition education would only prove fruitful to society as a whole, and enforces how important it is to instill diet awareness in today’s youth.

Preventing Illness and Disease

Many prevalent diseases in the population today such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers are often preventable, one way being through a healthy diet. Many people foster various misconceptions about healthy eating, or have little-to-no knowledge at all. Andrea Giancoli, an American Dietetic Association spokesperson, spoke on how many people believed (and still believe) that consuming carbohydrates demonstrated an unhealthy lifestyle, while the reality is that the pure quality of the carbohydrate is what determines its healthiness. Misinformation like this results in many people becoming malnourished, and developing false illusions of what a healthy diet should actually look like.

Meanwhile, others find nutritional value in food items that are not exactly as they seem. Giancoli also spoke on the increased use of food supplements. Instead of directly obtaining nutrients from their diet, many people simply take additional vitamins and supplements in order to meet their quota of the day. This has placed the focus of maintaining a balanced and healthy diet through whole foods in a secondary position, while using supplements and multivitamins as a primary source.

By avoiding the issue above (consuming secondary nutrient sources like vitamins and supplements, as opposed to typical food sources), one can instead focus on maintaining a healthy diet that is balanced and fit to meet nutritional and bodily needs. By improving portion size, food group balance, and opting to learn more about nutritional endeavours, one can consistently consume a diet that will lessen the chances of being diagnosed with a chronic disorder. For example, consuming an excessive amount of sugar can result in an increased chance of contracting diabetes; a chronic metabolic disease. However, consuming a recommended amount of sugar (less than 10% of total caloric intake according to Diabetes Canada) can result in a lesser chance of contracting diabetes.

Summative Remarks

By promoting nutritional education to the general public through schools, online resources, and other means, benefits such as decreased preventable health issues and an increase in healthy diet uptake would emerge. It is evident that dietary education plays a significant role in bringing nutrition awareness within the population, ultimately resulting in an increased amount of healthy active lifestyles.