Definitions for public health nutrition: a developing consensus
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Objectives: To assess the level of agreement amongst a panel of public health nutrition leaders regarding the key descriptors used to define the field of public health nutrition. Design: Cross-sectional survey requiring quantitative and qualitative responses representing the first round of a consensus development Delphi technique. Setting: International. Subjects: Expert panel of 24 public health nutrition leaders from nine countries in the European Union, the USA and Australia. Results: All but one of the panel agreed it was important to have a consensus definition for public health nutrition to describe the field consistently. Opinion about the length and complexity of this definition tended to vary depending on the intended use of the definition. The large majority (18/24) supported the inclusion of specific reference to physical activity in a definition of public health nutrition, although there was not consensus (.83% agreement as criterion) on this point. Consensus descriptors regarded as important in a definition of public health nutrition included: population-based, focus on health promotion, food and nutrition systems focus, wellness maintenance, primary prevention, applies public health principles, education, environmental and political descriptors. Treatment as a descriptor was rated as unimportant by a majority (14/24) of panellists, delineating public health nutrition from clinical practice. Conclusions: There is strong international agreement amongst public health nutrition leaders in Europe, the USA and Australia about a range of descriptors that can be used to define public health nutrition. The limitations of using word-for-word definitions between and within countries may be overcome by explicit use of the consensus descriptors identified in this process.
Public Health Nutrition
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