PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to explore how stakeholders in the food and nutrition field construct and conceptualise “appropriate” national dietary advice.Design/methodology/approachIn total, 40 voluntarily written stakeholder responses to updated official dietary guidelines in Sweden were analysed thematically. The analysis explored the logics and arguments employed by authorities, interest organisations, industry and private stakeholders in attempting to influence the formulation of dietary guidelines.FindingsTwo main themes were identified: the centrality of anchoring advice scientifically and modes of getting the message across to the public. Stakeholders expressed a view of effective health communication as that which is nutritionally and quantitatively oriented and which optimises individuals’ capacities to take action for their own health. Their responses did not offer alternative framings of how healthy eating could be practiced but rather conveyed an understanding of dietary guidelines as documents that provide simplified answers to complex questions.Practical implicationsPolicymakers should be aware of industrial actors’ potential vested interests and actively seek out other stakeholders representing communities and citizen interests. The next step should be to question the extent to which it is ethical to publish dietary advice that represents a simplified way of conceptualising behavioural change, and thereby places responsibility for health on the individual.Originality/valueThis research provides a stakeholder perspective on the concept of dietary advice and is among the first to investigate referral responses to dietary guidelines.
British Food Journal – Emerald Publishing
Published: Mar 5, 2018
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