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Protein for Life Findings

I would like to thank VOICE members for taking part in focus groups as part of the Protein for Life research project. Their participation was extremely valuable and the information which resulted from the sessions has greatly shaped the project. We now have some findings to share with you.

The overall aim of the Protein for Life project is to identify and develop guidelines for higher protein products for healthy ageing that are cost effective, sustainable and enjoyable. The project is utilising multidisciplinary methodologies to understand the current consumer behaviours around protein intake and barriers and constraints to increasing protein intake in an ageing population. This information together with the analysis of existing evidence will be used to inform industry on reformulation and new product development for a diverse population of ageing consumers.

As part of this project, focus groups were conducted to gain an insight into the barriers and enabling factors to increased intake of protein-rich foods. Ten focus groups were conducted with participants aged 40 years and over being included. The information from the focus groups were analysed and outcomes were compared between age groups.

What we found

  • The understanding of the relationship between diet and health was excellent in all groups.
  • The most important factors to purchasing protein based foods are
    • Taste and versatility
    • Healthiness of the food
    • Personal health reasons
    • Animal welfare
  • The focus on food purchasing based on personal health complaints increases with age
  • Generally, but not in all instances, participants were not fully aware of the importance of protein in foods. The major barrier to protein consumption is knowledge of how much protein should be consumed and from which sources
  • Many participants were not aware of the recommended daily intake of protein
  • The amount of fat, carbohydrates and sugars in foods are seen as more important than the amount of protein when choosing foods
  • There is a distrust of ever changing health messaging and reports on healthy foods by scientists and the media
  • The public should also be given more information on the types of protein and how they differ within foods
  • A clear, concise and robust recommendation for protein intake should be made available to the general public in order for consumers to assess their own diet throughout life

These findings have given us a greater understanding into the reasons why we do and do not eat certain foods. The information will be used along with other data from the Protein for Life project to create recommendations for industry and health professionals. The project has its own website www.proteinforlife.co.uk which has information about the project and is updated regularly with results, reports and news.

We thank you again for your participation and hope that we see you again in the near future.

Anthony Watson
NU-Food Research Facility Manager

School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development
Newcastle University

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