Dairy dithering

July 02, 2010, 11:31 PM GMT+0

A third of British adults are confused about the health messages surrounding dairy products, a YouGov SixthSense report into the dairy market has found.

Milk and yoghurt are especially recognised for their health benefits, but perhaps understandably, cream is seen to be more of a treat. Among UK adults, the vast majority (71%) consider yoghurt to be healthy, while a still-substantial majority (60%) see milk as healthy and natural. 65% believe milk to be nutritious, and only ten percent see it as fattening.

In contrast, 59% see cream, the usually high-fat product, as indulgent; but cheese, which can contain as much as 80% fat, is seen as tasty (74%), traditional (59%) and versatile (50%).

It is notable that women seem more concerned with the effects that dairy can have on cholesterol levels than men. A substantial 37% of women admit that they try to restrict their dairy intake as it may affect their cholesterol levels compared to only 26% of men.

And it seems that the perception of dairy products as ‘natural’ influences how healthy they are seen to be – the majority of UK adults (65%) agree that dairy products are ‘not bad for their health’ because they are ‘natural’, perhaps a reaction against processed food.

James McCoy, Research Director for YouGov SixthSense, commented ‘Cheese, milk and yoghurt have benefited from the lasting perception that they are ‘traditional’ and ‘natural’ and are subsequently less likely to be seen as fattening or bad for your health.’ This leads, he continues, to ‘dairy companies emphasising the natural properties of their products with words like pro-biotic and pre-biotic adorning packaging everywhere.’

See the YouGov SixthSense Dairy Market Report