Document Type

Conference Paper

Publication Date


Publication Details

This conference paper was originally published as Basil, M., Basil, D. and Deshpande, S., A Comparison of Dieticians and the Public: Nutrition Focus, Food Choice, and Mental Accounting, Partnerships, Proof and Practice - International Nonprofit and Social Marketing Conference 2008, University of Wollongong, 15-16 July 2008.


Diet-related health conditions such as diabetes and CVD are an important public health issue. In response, many countries have instituted nutrition labels on packaged foods. How well do people do at extracting and using information from information labels? And how do laypeople compare to experts? This study compares three different conceptualizations of expertise – a body of knowledge, better processing skills, or a greater facility for mental accounting. This study compared the focuses, food choices, and mental accounting of dieticians and the public. The results demonstrate similar focuses, food choices, and mental accounting by both groups. The main effect of expertise appears to be in consistency between focus and food choice. The minimal effects of knowledge suggest that people may be adequately educated about nutrition. As a result, education may now be less important than structural changes such as increasing the availability of healthy food.