Oily fish consumption in young adults: current intakes, knowledge, barriers & motivations

K Adolphus, SM Baic

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)


    Background: Long chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n-3 PUFA) play an important role in the prevention of many health problems including cardiovascular disease, mental health issues such as depression and neurological malformations during foetal growth. The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition recommends adults should consume at least two portions of fish per week, one of which (approximately 140g) should be oily but that there be safe upper levels for intake (SACN, 2004). Despite dietary recommendations recent surveys suggest only 1 in 4 adults eat oily fish regularly and that average intakes in consumers is only 45g/week, around one third of a portion (Bates et al, 2010). This study aimed to improve understanding of the knowledge, motivations, barriers and information access regarding oily fish in young adults in whom dietary habits may still be developing in order to inform methods for increasing consumption. Methods: A self-administered cross-sectional survey was used to collect data from University of Bristol students (n=112, mean age 20.9 [SD 2.6] years, 75% female).The survey was developed from two previously validated questionnaires to assess current fish intake, knowledge, motivations, barriers and information access in relation to oily fish consumption . The survey was delivered via the University of Bristol Online Survey system. A chi-square test was used to test for differences between groups and Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient was used to identify associations. Alpha was set at <0.05. Results: Only 36.6% of participants met the dietary recommendation of eating ≥1 portion of oily fish per week. Where oily fish was eaten, average portion size was below recommended levels at 106g. A large proportion of participants lacked specific awareness of the intake recommendations (48.8%) and safe upper levels for women (68.8%) and men (70.5%). Neither the frequency of consumption of oily fish nor the meeting the dietary recommendation significantly differed by overall knowledge level (x2=18.166, df=15, p=0.254; x2=1.913, df =3, p=0.591 respectively). The main motivational drivers for fish consumption were liking the taste (77.3%) and knowing the associated health benefits (69.1%). The perceived high price (36.8%), unpleasant smell (38.9%) and dislike of taste (30.5%) were the main reported barriers to consuming oily fish. Other key barriers included a dislike of bones (21.5%) and difficulty with preparation and cooking (19.6%). A dislike of the taste was strongly negatively associated with consumption behaviour (r= -.372, p=0.004). Wholly or partially following a vegetarian diet was negatively associated with fish consumption and in turn n-3 PUFA intake (r= -.286, p=0.31). The types of information participants said they would most like to receive on fish were recipes (38.4%), details of health benefits (30.4%) and tips on cooking and preparation methods (29.5%). Online routes such as email prompts were the preferred channel of communication for this information. Discussion: Lack of awareness of the dietary recommendations and health benefits of fish has also been noted in previous studies (Burger, 2008). Previous studies have also reported similar barriers to oily fish consumption (Jones & Cornu, 1994).Together these findings indicate a need to increase understanding of specific key issues around oily fish intake in young people. They suggest a value of health promotion strategies including electronic routes, which address cost, taste, smell, convenience and preparation and cooking issues including recipes and vegetarian sources of n-3 PUFA alternatives. Conclusion: Oily fish consumption in young people may be facilitated by using electronic methods to target barriers to consumption, gaps in knowledge and awareness around fish consumption. References Bates, B., Lennox, A. and Swan, G. (2010). National Diet and Nutrition Survey: headline results from year 1 of the rolling programme 2008/2009. http://www.food.gov.uk/science/dietarysurveys/ndnsdocuments/ ndns0809year1 (accessed July 2010). Burger, J. (2008). Fishing, fish consumption, and awareness about warnings in a university community in central New Jersey in 2007 & comparisons with 2004. Environmental Research. 108(1), 107-116. Jones, S.D. and Cornu, K. (1994). The assessment of oily fish intake in two clinic populations. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics. 7(2), 141-145. SACN (2004). Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition .Advice on fish consumption: benefits & risks.TSO. London
    Translated title of the contributionOily fish consumption in young adults: current intakes, knowledge, barriers & motivations
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBristish Dietetic Association Annual Conference
    Publication statusPublished - 9 May 2011

    Bibliographical note

    Name and Venue of Event: London Hammersmith Novotel
    Conference Organiser: BDA

    Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Oily fish consumption in young adults: current intakes, knowledge, barriers & motivations'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this

    Adolphus, K., & Baic, SM. (2011). Oily fish consumption in young adults: current intakes, knowledge, barriers & motivations. In Bristish Dietetic Association Annual Conference