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Two contemporary trends have converged to create new and increasingly urgent opportunities for public-private research collaborations in nutrition science: (1) the emerging consensus that scientific expertise across a range of disciplines may be necessary to address complex food issues like obesity, dietary behavior change, and so on, and (2) the budgetary pressures of recent years. However, new initiatives to broaden research projects to include both public and industry scientists bring new communication challenges. Research involving private-sector participants has over the past 2 decades been critiqued as being potentially conflicted financially and less transparent than other research, skewed toward profit-motivated outcomes, and the like. Consequently, today's nutrition communicators need to be aware that trust, conflict-of-interest, and other essentially extrascientific issues may require new strategies in getting key messages across to consumers. This article explores those challenges and offers counsel on meeting them in communicating about the work of emerging public-private partnerships (PPPs), such as the recently announced PPP to enhance the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)-managed national nutrient database to include nutrition information on branded food products. Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health.


Rowe S.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Alexander N.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2012

Nutrition, health, and food scientists and others charged with reaching out with credible science information have known for some time that they are in an uphill battle for the hearts and minds of the public. Especially, with the escalating noise of Web communications and ever-more-immediately available information of all kinds, it has become increasingly difficult for scientists to be heard and understood above the electronic din. For 2 days in May 2012, the National Academies of Science, through its Sackler Colloquium series, held a conference to explore the "Science of Science Communications" and more specifically to explore why the public often fails to respond to science-based calls to action. This article summarizes for nutrition communicators the Colloquium's major themes. Copyright © 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Rowe S.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Alexander N.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2015

Much has been written in the peer-reviewed literature about conflicts of interest in scientific research, including food research. Some authorities have called for more stringent management of such conflicts. Some have pointed out the relationship between financial conflicts of interest and other kinds of biases that may affect the direction or interpretation of research. Relatively little if anything has appeared in the literature about the possible biases of those who report or comment on nutrition and other health research. In this article, such ''communication bias'' is explored in some depth, and strategies are discussed for disclosing andmanaging the philosophical, emotional, value-based, or other biases that influence the interpretation of nutrition and health science. At a minimum, the authors argue for greater awareness and disclosure of such influences on the reporting of diet and health information. Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Schorin M.D.,Schorin Strategies LLC | Sollid K.,IFIC Foundation | Edge M.S.,IFIC Foundation | Bouchoux A.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2012

As carbohydrates, sugars play many important roles in our food. They are a source of calories and, in addition to sweetening, perform many essential technical functions both in processed foods and in foods prepared in the home. However, the complex terminology used to describe sugars can be confusing. Communications regarding the definitions of various sugars, the role of sugars in our food and health, and the methods used to measure sugar consumption would be enhanced among regulators, scientists, manufacturers, health professionals, and consumers if commonly accepted definitions were harmonized. © 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Rowe S.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Alexander N.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2012

The past several decades have seen profound changes in communication models, creating an imperative for openness, honesty, and transparency in order for nutrition communications to be an effective force to benefit public health. National surveys over this period have documented a more or less steady decline in consumers' confidence in the communications of previously highly regarded institutions, such as Congress, business corporations, and the news media. The article examines the critical importance of trust in maintaining the credibility and authority of major institutions themselves and especially of their broad communications intended to benefit the public. The authors explore the implications of the erosion of trust for nutrition communicators, and they examine in some detail the communication factors that build or erode confidence in the evolving public conversation about food and nutrition. The article stresses the criticality of trust components in creating effective nutrition and food science communications. Copyright © 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.


Rowe S.B.,SR Strategy | Rowe S.B.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Alexander N.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2015

How sure are you that you are on nutritionally sound groundVin your own eating behavior and in your conversations with family, friends, and colleagues? Put another way, how do you know that what you believe about food is right? Is there any risk that what you and I believe is wrong? Actually, there is always a risk that the current science on any given nutrition subject is wrong or is in error and that subsequent research will correct the error and move on. Science is evolving, not static. But how do you communicate that? Copyright © 2015 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.


Rowe S.B.,University of Massachusetts Amherst | Alexander N.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2016

The authors take up an issue recently explored in the literature: the increasing exaggeration of research results in press releases and in the mass media. Pointing out that such exaggeration may stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of science as "magic," rather than as a process of experimentation, they propose that nutrition communicators adopt a new perspective: acknowledgement that science progresses by trial and error rather than a search for "truth." They cite commentators who suggest banning such misleading expressions as "statistically significant," "theory," and "truth," as well as such common nutrition science terms as "natural" and "organic." The authors recommend that nutrition communicators focus on telling their readers not about such fantasies as "super foods" and "life-prolonging supplements," but about how better to think about health and nutrition science. © 2016 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. All rights reserved.


Rowe S.,University of Massachusetts Boston | Alexander N.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2013

The article's authors describe recent movement in science communications and research to embrace a broader approach than has been utilized previously in reaching understanding of modern, complex issues facing scientists, policy makers, and the public today, such as obesity and climate change. Referring to what social anthropologists have called "distanciation," "disembedding," and "unresolved trust issues," between scientists and the public, the authors cite recent calls by academicians, policy analysts, and health professionals for a greater scientific inclusionary focus to research and communication. They argue that the physical sciences alone may not describe the food and lifestyle behaviors or the food system that have led to alarming increases in noncommunicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, and other modern health conditions. They point to increasing participation by experts in the social sciences and humanities in conferences, research, and communications, regarding contemporary critical nutrition and health issues, a move to transdisciplinarity. © 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health.


David B.,IFIC Foundation | Loving L.,Food Ingredient and Technology Communications
Food Science and Technology | Year: 2011

Consumer perceptions of food technology are discussed and some recommendations for communicating its benefits are offered. Many consumers have traditionally been reluctant to adopt technology in food production because they lack important information about the technologies and their benefits. The International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation provides food, agriculture, nutrition and health, and other professionals and communicators with information and tools to communicate the facts about modern food production, food processing and processed foods, and to guide consumers to make the best food choices for their overall health and life-styles. Research conducted on Consumer Perceptions of Food Technology by IFIC has found that when consumers are provided with information about functions and potential benefits of a particular technology.


Schorin M.D.,LLC LLC | Sollid K.,IFIC Foundation | Edge M.S.,IFIC Foundation | Bouchoux A.,IFIC Foundation
Nutrition Today | Year: 2012

Sugars have a long history of safe use in foods. Placed on the Food and Drug Administration's list of foods that are "generally recognized as safe" in 1958, sugars and the health aspects of sugar consumption continue to be evaluated. Recent research has focused on several potential sugars and health relationships, sugar consumption and nutritional quality of the diet, recommendations for sugars or added sugar intake, and the utility of the glycemic index and glycemic load. The data are not clear-cut, although experts generally agree that dietary guidance focusing on calorie control, without singling out one food or nutrient, is essential to addressing the prevalence of obesity. © 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

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