Carbohydrate knowledge, dietary guideline awareness, motivations and beliefs underlying low-carbohydrate dietary behaviours

Churuangsuk, C. , Lean, M. E.J. and Combet, E. (2020) Carbohydrate knowledge, dietary guideline awareness, motivations and beliefs underlying low-carbohydrate dietary behaviours. Scientific Reports, 10, 14423. (doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-70905-2) (PMID:32879368) (PMCID:PMC7468104)

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To explore the factors (including knowledge and attitude) influencing the decision to follow a low-carbohydrate diet (LCD) or not in a sample of the UK population. An online questionnaire was distributed electronically to adults who had either followed LCD or not (February–December 2019). Demographics and self-reported “LCD-status” (current, past and non-follower) were collected. Multivariable linear regression was used with carbohydrate knowledge, dietary guideline agreement and theory of planned behaviour (TPB) constructs (all as predictors) to explain the intention to follow a LCD (outcome). Respondents (n = 723, 71% women, median age 34; 85% white-ethnicity) were either following (n = 170, 24%) or had tried a LCD in the preceding 3 months (n = 184, 25%). Current followers had lower carbohydrate knowledge scores (1–2 point difference, scale − 11 to 11) than past and non-followers. A majority of current LCD followers disagreed with the EatWell guide recommendations “Base meals on potatoes, bread, rice and pasta, or other starchy carbohydrates. Choose whole grains where possible” (84%) and “Choose unsaturated oils and spreads and eat in small amounts such as vegetable, rapeseed, olive and sunflower oils” (68%) compared to past (37%, 10%, respectively) and non-followers (16%, 8%, respectively). Weight-loss ranked first as a motivation, and the internet was the most influencial source of information about LCDs. Among LCD-followers, 71% reported ≥ 5% weight loss, and over 80% did not inform their doctor, nurse, or dietitian about following a diet. Approximately half of LCD followers incorporated supplements to their diets (10% used multivitamin/mineral supplements), despite the restrictive nature of the diet. TPB constructs, carbohydrate knowledge, and guideline agreement explained 60% of the variance for the intention to follow a LCD. Attitude (std-β = 0.60), perceived behavioural control (std-β = 0.24) and subjective norm (std-β = 0.14) were positively associated with the intention to follow a LCD, while higher knowledge of carbohydrate, and agreeing with national dietary guidelines were both inversely associated (std-β = − 0.09 and − 0.13). The strongest primary reason behind UK adults’ following a LCD is to lose weight, facilitated by attitude, perceived behavioural control and subjective norm. Higher knowledge about carbohydrate and agreement with dietary guidelines are found among people who do not follow LCDs.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lean, Professor Michael and Combet Aspray, Professor Emilie and Churuangsuk, Chaitong
Authors: Churuangsuk, C., Lean, M. E.J., and Combet, E.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Medicine, Dentistry & Nursing
Journal Name:Scientific Reports
Publisher:Nature Research
ISSN (Online):2045-2322
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Scientific Reports 10: 14423
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons license

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