Vitamin D deficiency is a well-recognised public health problem within the UK, with specific population groups more vulnerable to deficiency. Two pilot studies were used to explore awareness of vitamin D deficiency and attitudes towards food fortification.
A survey of 120 participants from five at-risk groups (South Asians, Blacks, Middle Eastern, Far Eastern and Caucasian older adults over 65 years) plus a group of British Caucasians who do not avoid sun exposure explored awareness of vitamin D, sun exposure knowledge and behaviour and attitudes towards food fortification. The latter group was included to provide a comparison group who were at a reduced risk of deficiency. χ2 was used to test associations between categorical variables and the study groups. The second study used three focus groups and two interviews, conducted on young South Asian females and examined knowledge and awareness of vitamin D and vitamin D-fortified foods.
A lack of knowledge and misconceptions were highlighted by both studies in relation to at-risk factors, including sunlight exposure (p = 0.037), dietary intakes (p = 0.0174) and darker skin pigmentation (p = 0.023), sources of vitamin D and the health benefits associated with optimal consumption. Attitudes to mandatory fortification of some foods varied significantly (p = 0.004) between the groups with acceptance rates for Blacks (68 per cent), those over 65 years (50 per cent), Middle Eastern (67 per cent) and Far Eastern (73 per cent), whereas the control (71 per cent) showed no acceptance, and South Asians gave a mixed response (48 per cent No). Focus group findings highlighted positive views towards fortification, although this was less for mandatory as opposed to voluntary fortification. Both pilot studies highlight the need for more research into this area, to create more effective public health policies.
The research presents novel insights into a topical area where there is limited research.
Clark, B., Doyle, J., Bull, O., McClean, S. and Hill, T. (2019), "Knowledge and attitudes towards vitamin D food fortification", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 49 No. 3, pp. 346-358. https://doi.org/10.1108/NFS-04-2018-0121
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