Gut health, the microbiome and dietary choices: An exploration of consumer perspectives

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Nutrition and Dietetics


Aims: To explore consumer perceptions regarding dietary behaviours related to the gut microbiome, to assist in effective translation of research to practice. Methods: Online focus groups were conducted (adults with no formal medical or nutrition training). Semi-structured open-ended questioning explored perspectives related to gut health and dietary behaviours. A qualitative descriptive analysis approach was undertaken in duplicate. Results: Fourteen focus groups were conducted (n = 38, 15 males, 23 females). Four overarching themes regarding consumer perceptions were identified. These were (a) gut health equates with wellbeing, (b) there are divergent perceptions of how diet influences gut health, (c) interest in scientific evidence does not necessarily influence dietary behaviour and (d) gastrointestinal symptoms influence dietary behaviour. Conclusions: Consumers are interested in gut health and understand that diet may be important. Given that current literature regarding diet and gut health does not differ from dietary guidelines, consumer interest may provide a timely slant to promote longstanding guidelines. Consumer education to limit scepticism around government messaging, including utilisation of social media by nutrition professionals, may be key to improving adherence to guidelines.

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