Serving science to the public: deliberations by a sample of older adults upon exposure to a serving size recommendation for meat

Rui Gaspar*, Samuel Domingos, Patrícia Demétrio

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To enable consumers to make informed decisions based on communications about food risks and particularly intake recommendations, it is essential that individuals understand the information presented to them. Thus, research into the way people make sense and understand newly received information is important from a public policy perspective. This is the case when dealing with scientific information destined for the general public, such as recommended food intake serving sizes provided in numerical format. Hence, this study analysed responses from exposure to information concerning red meat intake risks and a numerical serving size recommendation. The study analysed: 1) participants’ reported difficulties in understanding a recommended serving size of red meat (70 g/day); and 2) behavioural indicators of deliberation strategies used to manage uncertainty and make sense of the numerical information. A mixed qualitative-quantitative method collected data from an older adults’ sample through single in-person deliberative sessions. While quantitative measures indicated that the information was perceived as moderately easy to understand; a qualitative thematic content analysis with a closed coding procedure evidenced participants’ implicit difficulties in understanding the quantity recommendation. “Commonplace” arguments (e.g. using general arguments and remarks applicable to any context/theme) emerged as the most commonly used deliberative strategy, along with various other individual strategies apparently intended to reduce uncertainty about quantities. This type of deliberative approach provides a step towards developing policies to reduce citizens’ uncertainty when exposed to scientific information in numerical formats. Such deliberative strategies may also promote increased citizen engagement in communication activities and health policy making.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-94
Number of pages10
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • Deliberation
  • Food risks
  • Numerical information
  • Red meat
  • Risk communication
  • Science communication
  • Uncertainty


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