A survey of folate knowledge and consumer behaviours in Western Australia prior to the introduction of mandatory food fortification
Article first published online: 8 DEC 2009
© 2009 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2009 Public Health Association of Australia
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health
Volume 33, Issue 6, pages 577–582, December 2009
How to Cite
Molster, C., Samanek, A., Bower, C. and O'Leary, P. (2009), A survey of folate knowledge and consumer behaviours in Western Australia prior to the introduction of mandatory food fortification. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 33: 577–582. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2009.00456.x
- Issue published online: 8 DEC 2009
- Article first published online: 8 DEC 2009
- Submitted: April 2009 Revision requested: July 2009 Accepted: August 2009
- folic acid;
Objectives: Prior to the introduction of mandatory folic acid fortification in September 2009, this study collected baseline data on folate awareness, knowledge of pregnancy-relevant public health messages and consumer behaviours in Western Australia.
Methods: One thousand residents aged 18 years or older participated in a cross sectional telephone survey in September 2006. Respondents were recruited randomly from the electronic residential telephone directory.
Results: Most respondents reported knowing little or nothing about folate (86%). Women of childbearing age were more likely than other adults to know the association between folate intake and birth defects (82% v 56%) but 41% did not know that folate should be consumed periconceptionally to reduce the risk of spina bifida. Overall, half the respondents did not take supplements and two-thirds did not know if the food products they ate were fortified with folic acid. Associations were detected between knowledge, consumer behaviours and socio-economic indicators such as age, income, highest level of education, area of residence and parental status.
Implications: A mix of public health strategies that includes mandatory fortification and the promotion of supplement use should improve the timely and sufficient intake of folate across all socio-economic strata of the Australian population. Strategies that support the introduction of mandatory fortification, such as awareness and education campaigns should be built on a solid understanding of the drivers and barriers to knowledge acquisition and desired consumer behaviours.