ENCOURAGING A HEALTHIER DIET
over the past several years, laboratory research has shown soy is the most complete source of plant protein and loaded with health benefits. Now, a new study confirms Canadian dieticians are on board with the benefits of soy and agree it’s a great choice as part of a healthier diet.
More than 100 Canadian dieticians participating in a recent online survey sent the message loud and clear – soy is part of a healthy diet. Nancy Cogger, Director, Business Development at Soy 20/20 and its Soy Foods Marketing Council, said she was pleasantly surprised by the positive reception dieticians gave soy in the study. And many of the respondents were speaking from their own experience – 70 percent of Canadian dieticians surveyed consume soy products themselves.
Developed to study dieticians’ attitudes towards soy, the survey was conducted by Altitude Research on behalf of the Soy 20/20 Soy Foods Marketing Council. The Council’s goal is to be an advocate for soy and encourage the growth of soy foods and beverages in Canada. Soy 20/20 is leading a health claim submission to Health Canada on protein-rich soy foods and their effect on cholesterol reduction.
Results of the study were presented during the Healthy Professionals Day at the 2012 Royal Agricultural Winter Fair to approximately 120 registered dieticians, government and food industry representatives.
Key findings of the dietician survey include:
• 90% agree soy is heart healthy
• 88% agree soy has a role in maintaining a healthy diet
• 90% agree soy is suitable for people sensitive to dairy or gluten
• 70% agree soy reduces the risk of heart disease
Based on their experience:
• 82% say consumers have a lack of knowledge about how to cook with soy
• 81% say consumers don’t know how to incorporate soy in meals
• 61% say consumers don’t know where to get information on soy
• 54% say consumers don’t know where to find soy in grocery stores
“This is a highly educated group of people who are diligent about doing their research,” says Cogger, who references survey results indicating dieticians regularly source soy information from their own professional organization, Dieticians of Canada, the Soy Foods Council website, professional journals and even Google searches. Survey respondents represented a group of established dieticians, with 10 years of experience or more, working in both hospitals and private practices.
responding to the results
Encouraged by the positive response to soy, and using the survey results, the Soy 20/20 Soy Foods Marketing Council plans to develop a communications strategy targeting Canadian dieticians and ongoing education efforts. The group hopes to leverage the Dieticians of Canada, Soyforlife.ca and other websites as part of a multi-channel, online media messaging strategy. “We know this group is positively predisposed to soy and our goal is to start a regular dialogue with these trusted professionals,” says Cogger.
Survey results indicated the large majority of dieticians – 72 percent – felt someone from within their own ranks represents the ideal spokesperson for soy. Using this information, Cogger says the next steps are to engage select dieticians as ambassadors for soy, using peer to peer influence and professional credibility to promote the health benefits of soy to Canadian dieticians and their patients. Respondents also indicated a need for resources and support tools to engage patients. Thrilled with this feedback, Cogger says the Council will leverage existing soy recipe and informational brochures to support dieticians with their soy recommendations.
“There are lots of ways to provide information, now that we know dieticians are looking for it, we hope to work with them to educate and promote the benefits of soy as part of a healthy diet,” says Cogger.
Investment in this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), which is delivered in Ontario by the Agricultural Adaptation Council. •