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Food avoidance: why are so many of us going gluten free? Dr Sinead Golley

For the Food Values Research Group’s September seminar, we are pleased to welcome Dr Sinead Golley:

Food avoidance: why are so many of us going gluten free?

Dr Sinead Golley, CSIRO Health & Biosecurity

Research conducted by the CSIRO has revealed a significant trend amongst Australian adults to engage in self-prescribed dietary modification through the avoidance of key dietary factors. With one-in-five Australians actively avoiding consuming products containing wheat and/or dairy this body of research provides key insights into the drivers of the market for ‘gluten- or dairy-free’ consumer products or dining experiences.

Data presented relating to the avoidance of wheat and dairy products in relation to prevalence, drivers and influences were obtained through a random sample of the Australian population (N = 1184). One in ten adults surveyed reported avoiding wheat foods, 16% dairy foods. While a proportion of avoiders were restricting consumption for reasons such as personal taste, preference or body weight-related factors the vast majority, equalling 15% of Australians, reported avoiding these foods for control of adverse reactions, primarily gastrointestinal in nature.

With important implications for public health this dietary trend is seldom accompanied by a formal diagnosis, or expert dietary supervision, driven substantially by information obtained from complementary medicine or lay sources, such as family, friends or the media. Of concern are the risks inherent in the self-prescribed nature of this behaviour including potential nutritional imbalances and the delay in identification and treatment of potentially serious underlying medical conditions.

Dr Sinead Golley is a behavioural scientist who joined the CSIRO in May 2009. Her particular expertise lies in the areas of social-cognitive and applied health psychology, with specialised understanding of the relationship between implicit cognitive processes, in particular the use of heuristic knowledge structures, and subsequent biases in attitudes, attributions and decision making. Her current research topics include the understanding the drivers of food choice, in particular food avoidance, acceptance of novel technologies in relation to food, and also individual differences with relevance to health attitudes and their impact on (multiple) health behaviours.

When: Wednesday 5th of September, 12-1 PM
Where: Ira Raymond Room, Barr Smith Library, North Terrace Campus, University of Adelaide (click here for campus map)

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