Public Confused by Dairy Health Messages, UK Study Finds

A YouGov ‘SixthSense’ report into the dairy market reveals that 1 in 3 adults in the UK are confused about the health messages surrounding dairy products.

Although 82% of respondents agree that dairy products are good for children, many are unsure where dairy ‘fits’ in their diet. Health perceptions of dairy vary widely, with 65% of respondents claiming dairy products are not bad for their health because they’re ‘natural’.

Women are more likely than men to acknowledge the negative effects dairy can have on one’s health. 37% of women in the UK try to restrict their dairy intake as it may affect their cholesterol levels, compared to 26% of men.


In the same report, milk is considered nutritious by 65% of respondents and 6 out of 10 believe that it’s healthy and natural. Just 10% of people associate the word fattening with milk – this compares to 66% who see cream as contributing to weight gain and 59% who see it as indulgent.

Cheese is more likely to connote words such as tasty (74%) or traditional (59%) and versatile (50%), rather than indulgent. Yoghurt is rarely viewed as unhealthy, with only 5% of people associating it with the word fattening and 71% seeing it as healthy.


Commenting on the report, James McCoy, research director for YouGov SixthSense, said: “Cheese, milk and yogurt 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. Cream is predominantly seen as being a treat, synonymous with indulgence.”


In an era when consumers are increasingly concerned about what goes into their food, milk benefits from being seen as a natural product, with 60% describing it as natural and 29% of respondents associating milk with childhood.


McCoy added: “Brands such as Cravendale are trying to exploit these trends by revamping their packaging to emphasise the ‘purity’ of their milk. This trend is unlikely to be diminished any time soon. More dairy companies are emphasising the natural properties of their products with words like ‘probiotic’ and ‘prebiotic’ adorning the front of packaging in dairy aisles everywhere.”

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