Research Project Proposal – Why the nutrition confusion?

Curiosity can lead you to discover aspects about yourself that you didn’t know existed. You may discover passions and interests, as well as interesting things about the world we live in. It is curiosity that changed my perception of health, specifically, my relationship with food. I continually find myself to be curious about nutrition; is it saturated fat that is the enemy, or is it sugar? What kind of information do we have to support these arguments? Why do so many people have different opinions on what is healthy or unhealthy?

Therefore, the question I have formulated for my research is: Why are there so many varying perceptions on nutrition and what role does information play in determining these perceptions?

I aim to gain insight into the food industry and understand why so many people have contradicting opinions about health. I have often come across these contradictions in my own life. Due to my mother being a personal trainer, she is very aware of nutritional information and I often go to her for nutritional advice. She believes that a high protein, high fat, low carb diet with fresh fruits and vegetables is the best way to go, thus I tend to lean towards those beliefs myself. However, I have friends who follow a vegan diet, and see public figures promoting a high carb, plant based diet as the optimum lifestyle. So how is there information that promotes both contradicting lifestyles to be correct? What is the source of this information? More importantly, how will this affect the future of public health? Furthermore, I hope to discover what makes an individual a “fanatic” of these lifestyles.

Possible methods that I can utilise to obtain answers to these questions are focus groups or online surveys. I feel that anonymous online surveys would encourage people to be more candid about their nutritional views. I will conduct quantitative research, such as asking participants their gender, age, where they grew up and where they tend to source most of their information. I will then follow that up with qualitative research by going into more detail about their perceptions and understanding of health and nutrition. This information will hopefully allow me to observe patterns and links between the demographic of people and whether that has an impact on their nutritional views.

Additionally, I hope to explore research ethics and how to properly conduct research in a manner that is respectful to participants and their views. Specifically, how to respect opinions that may conflict with my own, and not let my bias opinions shape that way I conduct my research.