Consumer response to healthy eating, physical activity and weight-related recommendations: a systematic review
Strong evidence linking poor diet and lack of physical activity to risk of obesity and related chronic disease has supported the development and promotion of guidelines to improve population health. Still, obesity continues to escalate as a major health concern, and so the impact of weight-related guidelines on behaviour is unclear. The aim of this review was to examine consumer response to weight-related guidelines. A systematic literature search was performed using Medline, PsycInfo, ProQuest Central and additional searches using Google and reference lists. Of the 1,765 articles identified, 46 relevant titles were included. Most studies examined attitudes towards content, source, tailoring and comprehension of dietary guidelines. Many respondents reported that guidelines were confusing, and that simple, clear, specific, realistic, and in some cases, tailored guidelines are required. Recognition of guidelines did not signify understanding nor did perceived credibility of a source guarantee utilization of guidelines. There was a lack of studies assessing: the impact of guidelines on behaviour; responses to physical activity guidelines; responses among males and studies undertaken in developing countries. Further research is needed, in particular regarding responses to physical activity guidelines and guidelines in different populations. Communication professionals should assist health professionals in the development of accurate and effective weight-related guidelines.