Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Healthy eating in Ukraine: attitudes, barriers and information sources

OO Biloukhaa1 and V Utermohlena1 c1

a1 Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA

Abstract

Objective To identify the major perceived influences on food choice, to examine the use of and trust in information sources concerning healthy eating, and to assess attitudes towards and barriers to adopting healthy eating practices in a post-USSR country (Ukraine).

Design A survey of an urban adult population. The questions were adopted from the Pan-European Union (EU) Survey of Consumer Attitudes to Food, Nutrition and Health (1995–1996).

Setting Lviv city, Ukraine.

Subjects The survey included 296 adults (84 males, 212 females) aged 18–55 years; they were primarily college students and subjects with tertiary education – the groups most likely to be both interested in healthy eating and affected by current socioeconomic downturns.

Results The major factors in food choice were: ‘quality/freshness’ (cited by 80%), ‘price’ (58%) and ‘taste’ (47%); only 34% cited ‘trying to eat healthily’. More older people cited ‘price’ than ‘quality/freshness’, and men were more likely than women to cite ‘taste’. Sources of healthy eating information included: ‘relatives/friends’ (cited by 65%, trusted by 85%) and health professionals (trusted by 92%, but used by only 35%); while advertising was the least trusted source (cited by 28%). Fifty-three per cent of respondents considered their diet to be healthy enough without further changes; 50% thought of the nutritional aspects of the food they ate; fewer women than men considered their diet healthy, and more women than men thought about nutrition. Barriers to healthy eating included: ‘cost’ (cited by 65%), ‘lack of time’ (55%), ‘self-control’ (54%), ‘selection influences’ (41%), ‘lack of knowledge’ (32%), ‘unpleasant foods’ and ‘resistance to change’ (both 30%).

Conclusions Strategies to encourage healthy eating in this population should involve word-of-mouth nutrition education concerning low-cost healthy alternatives.

Correspondence:

c1 Corresponding author: Email vu10@cornell.edu

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