Cancer and diet leads top 10 media story list

By Noli Dinkovski

- Last updated on GMT

Stories about cancer and diet continue to dominate media headlines about food
Stories about cancer and diet continue to dominate media headlines about food

Related tags: Food labelling, Leatherhead food research, Nutrition

Food waste, meat substitutes and gut bacteria all feature in the top 10 most mentioned food terms in the media over the past 12 months – but stories about cancer and diet continue to dominate – according to the head of a research body.

Terms that relate to, were a central theme of the list revealed by Leatherhead Food Research md Chris Wells, at its members’ conference on innovation last month.

Other health related terms in the list were superfoods, vitamin D, gluten-free and genetically-modified food; while food fraud and food labelling completed the top 10.

“Cancer and the diet clearly is a hugely complex area, and one that interests the media quite a lot,”​ said Wells.

“It’s telling that two leading cancer research experts in the US both recently said that health studies are done so differently, the only thing we can say with any guarantee is that if you eat too many calories, you’ll put on weight.”

Plenty of confusion

The fact that the issue created plenty of confusion meant that it created plenty of media, he added.

A similar situation was occurring with food labelling, the second most mentioned term on the list, according to Wells. “Considerable confusion still exists among consumers with food labelling, despite all the different approaches to rectify this,”​ he said.

“What that also leads to is confusion about terms like ‘use by’ and ‘best before’. I’ve been intrigued over the years to have been at a number of events where industry has talked about the need to educate consumers over these, but we still haven’t cracked it.”

Other fashionable food terms could also ultimately prove detrimental to people’s health, Wells suggested.

‘Lack of gluten’

“Gluten-free, which is third on our list, is a reflection of the fact that the percentage of the population electing to go for a gluten-free diet is considerably more than the 1% that needs to. However, recently it’s been shown that a lack of gluten can lead to selenium deficiency,” ​Wells explained.

A growing awareness of the importance of gut-bacteria, meanwhile, demonstrated how far the food industry had to go in meeting consumer needs, he suggested.

“The Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations recently revealed that 75% of the calories consumed globally are derived from just 12 plants and five animals.

So, if we assume that your gut biome health depends on the diversity of the food you eat, then we’ve a long way to go,”​ Wells said.

Moving into 2017, Wells suggested two trends to watch out for would be greater convenience, thanks to more bespoke home deliveries, and more open innovation through new forms of collaboration between industry and consumers.

Top food terms mentioned in the media

  • Cancer and diet
  • Food labelling
  • Food waste
  • Meat substitutes
  • Gut bacteria 
  • Superfoods
  • Vitamin D
  • Gluten-free 
  • Genetically-modified food
  • Food fraud 

Source: Leatherhead Food Research

Related topics: Hygiene, safety & cleaning

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