Agricultural illiteracy is an issue that has plagued the dairy industry for years. Too often, consumers are misinformed of the facts and form generalized perceptions that are more often than not incorrect. Researchers from the University of Wollongong in Australia believe nutrition education may be the solution to changing consumer attitudes and reversing mistaken beliefs.

A team of researcher questioned two groups of people with no prior education on dairy products. The report, published in the November issue of the BMC Public Health journal, stated that most people do not associate dairy with health benefits other than bone health.

These results are evident outside of the study as well.

“I know milk is supposed to help fight osteoporosis,” said Dean Mueller, a small business owner from mid-Missouri. “My wife also tells me to pick the milk that has vitamin D in it, but I’m not entirely sure why that is.”

Weight management was another issues addressed by the team of researchers. They trial groups reported they perceived dairy products as “fattening.”  This is in direct contrast to recent research suggesting dairy can promote weight loss.

“I don’t think dairy and milk are very good for you,” said Pam Steitz, a stay-at-home mother of two. “After all, ice cream and butter are usually on the list of ‘diet don’ts’ and they are both dairy products.”

Such comments show a misunderstanding about dairy products that might be corrected with better education.

The current study at the University of Wollongong helps prove “that nutrition education may improve attitudes toward dairy products and may thus be an important target for public-health campaigns seeking to increase intake of this food group,” according to the BMC Public Health paper.