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This paper gives the main findings of research designed to inform decisions about the format of a food selection guide, subsequently published as the National Food Guide. The research involved 2074 members of the public and 230 professionals involved in nutrition education. Different formats for the guide were assessed for performance (how well the information was understood and recalled) and preference with a quota sample of C2 and D socioeconomic groups. Preferences were also assessed with a sample of various professionals involved in nutrition education. The investigations involved different versions of the guide which varied in shape, background colour, presentational style (whether the foods depicted were many or few, photographic or drawn) and in the wording of the food group headings. The key findings were that exposure to a guide can have a significant effect on people's understanding of guide concepts and that some aspects of the design enhanced that effect. In particular, guides which were in the shape of a tilted plate were better at conveying nutritional concepts than those which were pyramid-shaped. Members of the public and nutrition educators both preferred a plate shape but, whereas the public preferred a tilted plate to a flat plate, the nutrition educators thought that a flat plate would be more appealing to their clients than a tilted plate.

Original publication




Journal article


J Hum Nutr Diet

Publication Date





210 - 226


Community Participation, Consumer Behavior, Dietetics, Health Education, Humans, Nutrition Policy, Nutritional Sciences, Patient Education as Topic, Practice Guidelines as Topic