Countering food myth with evidence

Dairy Australia

Although Australia is facing an obesity epidemic, many Australians do not consume enough dairy foods to meet the recommended intake for a healthy diet. Like many areas of nutrition, myths and misinformation abound. As consumers we are often targeted by unqualified health influencers offering conflicting, pseudo-scientific messages about food, which can cause confusion and impact our health.

Dairy Australia engaged Fenton Communications to research and scope channels to convey health information about dairy foods. Research confirmed health professionals as the most trusted source of health information for consumers, who are increasingly likely to seek nutritional advice from them. However, the health professionals in our research also cited lack of time and the complexity of the Australian Dietary Guidelines as key challenges to providing timely, relevant advice.

Fenton devised the Foods That Do Good communication program to support health professionals and provide accessible, evidence-based information about the role of dairy in a balanced diet. As a central source of holistic nutrition information, Foods That Do Good offers health professionals a platform to help them educate patients about the dietary guidelines.

This was a significant shift in Dairy Australia’s approach to communicating with health professionals, which had previously aligned with their consumer advertising. Instead the Foods That Do Good program focuses on scientific credibility, collaboration and education, and provides practical resources for clinical use.

Central to the program is a comprehensive website designed specifically for health professionals. A key tool on the website is an easy-to-use Nutrition Calculator that produces tailored factsheets specific to a patient’s age group and gender.

Stakeholder engagement was vital to the success of the program and Fenton worked with Dairy Australia to identify stakeholders and develop partnerships. This was achieved through prioritising key relationships, targeted outreach and pursuing opportunities for collaboration.

We also created and implemented an engagement strategy to target health professional media. The strategy included tailored media pitching for specific health professional groups and media angles that were informed by research and evidenced-based content, such as findings from the Australian Health Survey.

The Foods That Do Good communication program has changed the way Dairy Australia communicates with health professionals. Strong results and positive initial feedback from stakeholders are early signs of the program’s success.