Top tips for getting insights from health and nutrition influencers

Top tips for getting insights from health and nutrition influencers

Are you working on a nutrition and health strategy for change? Trying to convince your colleagues or board that your wellbeing approach is right? Developing a new food product and want to know how it will be received from a nutrition, health or sustainability point of view?

Over many years of working with people in the same situation, we know that you’re most likely to succeed if your process includes consulting those who will ultimately be influencing your target consumers – their key influencers including health leaders, NGOs, lobbying groups and health media.

Why carry out qualitative research with influencers?

Too often we’ve seen organisations launch a new initiative without consulting this important audience first – making it far more likely that the initiative won’t be the success it could be.

Do you know who is currently influencing your key target audiences on health and/or sustainability? Do you know what they are saying and might say about you and your initiatives?

These influencers will have a deep understanding of this changing landscape, the sector and the way population groups think and act as well as what they themselves want and may be telling them about your initiative. That’s what makes their insights so valuable – whether you’re using it as proof of an approach and a way to secure funding, or to help shape your thinking.

How to go about getting relevant insights

In 2019, we enjoyed many in-depth, eye-opening conversations with key health and nutrition influencers, carrying out qualitative research for clients. We listened, we learned and we helped companies inform their strategy, sell their vision to their colleagues and boards and develop new products.

The interviewing was vital, and it’s not always easy to get right. Here are our Nutrilicious top things to think about when embarking on your insights-gathering mission:

1. Choose your targets wisely. Work out the ideal criteria for mapping who you want to speak to and why. Always include disrupters and future thinkers if you have a longer term goal.
2. Your interviewee is likely to have a busy day job. Allow sufficient time for chasing appointments and contingency for cancellations.
3. Interviews don’t have to take place in a private space, but make sure it won’t be too loud.
4. Conduct the interview in pairs, to help capture everything but not overwhelm the interviewee.
5. You’re there to listen, not inform. You may be an expert in the field but you need to adopt a beginner’s mindset.
6. Try to extract facts, not opinion, and delve deep. The golden question is ‘why?’. Ask it again and again.
7. If you’re not a qualified practised insights interviewer, it’s important to work with a qualitative researcher or research team to help you. That’s why we partner with See Research. With stakeholder qualitative research we find that a combo team of a nutrition/dietetic expert lead and qualitative researcher is ideal.
8. Always ask permission before recording and don’t video the whole interview, just a summary at the end. You don’t need fancy equipment – a phone on a tripod should be enough, just check that you’re actually recording and your mobile is switched off!
9. If you can’t get a face-to-face meeting, video chat works too, using Zoom, Skype or an equivalent.
10. The interview should just be the beginning of the relationship. Use it as a way to build an understanding of what they care about, which opens doors for future conversations, for you helping them and indeed for them helping you at the communication phase.
11. What will you do with your results? Forget the insights report: it won’t be read widely. Better to paint a picture with infographics and edit your summary videos down to a single short film highlighting the key themes you’ve discovered.

We’re here to help

Hopefully, these points are useful. But if you need more support, we’re here to help – from helping identify your golden targets to delivering the learnings to support your objectives. Just get in contact, we’d love to hear from you.

 

Cholesterol and food: New science-based plan

Cholesterol and food: New science-based plan

The facts and figures around heart health and cholesterol are stark. Coronary heart disease (CHD) remains one of the major killers in the UK and Ireland, with 64,000 UK adults and 4,140 Irish adults dying of CHD every year.

The incidence of CHD saw an impressive decrease in the past decade thanks to better medical intervention and reduction in smoking. However, that has plateaued and incidences are beginning to rise again due to increasing rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, compounded by the fact that we are living longer.

What can we do about it? Actually, a lot. Around 93 per cent of deaths from CHD have been attributed to risk factors that can be modified – dietary habits and lifestyle. High cholesterol levels are one of the major risk factors to CHD.

This October, HEART UK’s National Cholesterol Month, sees the launch of the updated Ultimate Cholesterol Lowering Plan (UCLP©). It’s a science-based approach to encouraging diet change to include foods proven to improve heart health – and particularly lower cholesterol levels.

Originally developed in 2011 by HEART UK with the science and nutrition team at Alpro, the step-by-step plan is based on both heart health science and behavioural strategies. It can be tailored to meet any individuals’ motivation level and preferences – users are encouraged to build the plan that suits them best, so that change is realistic and easy to maintain. They’re encouraged to incorporate more changes only as and when they feel ready to do so.

It’s made up of three steps:
1. Improving motivation and tackling barriers to change.
2. Establishing a heart healthy foundation diet.
3. Incorporating four UCLP©-specific foods to the foundation diet, proven to impact on cholesterol levels:
– Soya foods
– Oats and barley
– Foods and drinks fortified with plant stanols or sterols
– A daily handful of any unsalted, unsweetened nuts

A new scientific review for healthcare professionals shows how the latest evidence supports the UCLP© guidelines, including the benefits to heart health of:
– Reducing saturated fat and partly replacing it with heart healthy unsaturated fats: for example, replacing high saturated fat meat with plant proteins such as beans, lentils, nuts and soya; or switching from full cream dairy products to lower fat versions or plant-based drinks and yoghurt alternatives.
– Increasing oil rich fish
– Encouraging higher fruit, vegetable and wholegrain intake

The review should give confidence to the healthcare professionals that advising their patients to follow the UCLP© will have positive outcomes; equally the patients will know it’s trusted by experts. On Wednesday 30 November a special UCLP© NutriWebinar will explore the science in detail and help health professionals understand how to apply the plan. It’s free and CPD-accredited; we hope you’ll join us for it. Sign up for the UCLP© NutriWebinar

 

Food choices for diabetes

Food choices for diabetes

When it comes to food choices, what should we be advising those suffering from type 2 diabetes to help them manage weight and glucose?

Do we focus on a low carb diet?
Cutting out fat?
Or just the simple principle of sticking to Eatwell guidelines?

Media headlines continue to offer 101 different – conflicting – solutions. So what’s the truth? How can we piece together this apparent mess to best support those with diabetes?

Next week, in the second in our series of diabetes NutriWebinars, expert Dr Duane Mellor, RD, Senior Teaching Fellow at Aston Medical School, Aston University will be exploring these topics.

Looking at how advice has shifted over the past few decades, he’ll be talking through the latest evidence and explaining what health professionals can do to actually help people living with type 2 diabetes.

The webinar will also cover evidence from the last couple of years that shows that type 2 diabetes is not necessarily always a condition for life: through weight loss and maintenance, we can actually help people go into remission.

Fundamentally, it’s about putting the person with the condition at the centre – rather than trying to force them into eating habits that don’t suit their lifestyle, culture or preferences. Instead of concentrating on specific nutrients at specific times of the day – ‘you must have starchy carbs at breakfast’ – it’s working out what works for them, at the same time as creating an overall balanced diet.

Inviting questions and ideas from participants, the NutriWebinar is set to be an interesting, informative and empowering evening. (Plus, it’s free and counts as CPD.) We hope you’ll join us and encourage colleagues to join in too: register now

 

Will SACN report put an end to the saturated fat debate?

Will SACN report put an end to the saturated fat debate?

At long last, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) report on saturated fats and health was published this month. The conclusion? Nothing new: saturated fat leads to heart disease and we should limit it to 10% of our calorie intake. So will it finally put an end to the irresponsible advice that abounds suggesting saturated fat isn’t so bad for you?

It’s taken over a year from the draft report to final version because of the number of comments, criticisms and questions as to why certain studies were or weren’t included as part of the overall evidence into sat fats.

The SACN committee has investigated and answered each one, including only the highest quality evidence available. The studies that came to the wrong conclusions about saturated fat were shown to be flawed.

They’re open about certain limitations to the evidence: for example, whether replacing saturated fat intake with carbohydrate can be beneficial. None of the studies look specifically at ‘good’ carbs (for example wholegrain cereals), just at carbs overall. Further research still needs to be done into this.

But the overall conclusion was inescapable: to reduce cardiovascular disease we should lower our intake of saturated fat.

So will high profile influencers like Dr Michael Mosley or Joe Wicks take note and stop promoting ingredients like coconut oil, which is shown to have higher saturated fat than butter and lard?

Sadly, we think it’s unlikely. For one reason or another they seem to have too much invested in it.

But if you’re reading this and feel as strongly as we do about the need to stop the irresponsible advice, join us in canvassing the influencers to open their eyes to the dangers of what they’re suggesting – rather than just thinking about their commercial interests or looking for the next great headline. #saynotosatfat

Go to the British Nutrition Foundation website for a summary of the SACN report findings

 

Sugar tax: Consumers shift to sugar-free drinks

Sugar tax: Consumers shift to sugar-free drinks

‘The levy is working.’ That’s the conclusion from a recent survey of drinks sales, a year on since the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) – or sugar tax – was introduced.

The study concentrated on products that sell in large enough volume to have a public health effect. In a ‘historic change’, sales of Coke Zero Sugar increased by 50 per cent and Pepsi, sugar-free Max by 17 per cent. Full sugar Classic Coke and Blue Pepsi sales both fell.

The shift is attributed to the sugar free drinks being cheaper than their full sugar equivalent, as a result of the SDIL. Giving consumers the economic incentive to buy drinks that are healthier has worked. As the authors of the study say, ‘Discounts have had the effect that economists expected and health specialists hoped for.’

New sugar free versions of popular drinks are being increasingly sold in major retailers, with the hope that they’ll also become more prominent in smaller, independent shops. The positive trend is moving in the right direction – and it’s happening relatively quickly.

More needs to be done from a retail environment point of view, especially alerting customers to the discounts. Non-lead brands do still have work to do on reducing their sugar levels – although affecting a far smaller number of individuals, they still impact on health. And of course, the drinks industry is just one part of the wider obesity story.

We wondered what the effect of the sugar tax would be when it was introduced. So it’s fantastic to hear the dramatic change that’s already happened – and we’ll be monitoring the year ahead with interest.

The study was carried out by Jack Winkler, Emeritus Professor of Nutrition Policy, London Metropolitan University and Tam Fry, chair National Obesity Forum. Go to BeverageDaily.com to read the full results

 

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