Consumer perception and insights on fats and fatty acids: knowledge on the quality of diet fat

Ann Nutr Metab. 2009;54 Suppl 1:25-32. doi: 10.1159/000220824. Epub 2009 Jul 30.


Background: Research indicates that consumers do not understand dietary fat, either the importance of the quality or the quantity of fats needed for health. Previous consumer surveys suggest the priority placed on fat in various nutrition communications (i.e., low fat or reduction in fats) has contributed to this confusion.

Methods: This consumer study was carried out in 16 countries in two waves, investigating in total 6,426 subjects. The survey was conducted by phone, internet and face-to-face interviews, depending on the acceptable method for the population. Participants, aged 18-70 years, were the main family shopper.

Results: Knowledge about fat is conflicted, including which fats have health benefits; 59% of respondents think fat should be avoided, 65% think a low-fat diet is a healthy diet and 38% claim to avoid foods containing fat. Respondents were aware of different types of fats but did not know which ones were healthier. Omegas have the greatest level of recognition but at the same time many people do not realize they are fats.

Conclusions: Around half of consumers do not know whether fats are good or bad, meaning they do not know what to eat.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Dietary Fats* / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Fats* / standards
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / administration & dosage
  • Female
  • Food Preferences
  • Global Health*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Policy
  • Young Adult


  • Dietary Fats
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3