As 2020 has brought much uncertainty to the world as we collectively face a global pandemic, consumers are turning to health professionals, primarily registered dietitian nutritionists (RDNs), for evidence-based information and advice around food choices during these challenging times.

According to a recent survey conducted by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) in May 2020 evaluating COVID-19’s impact on consumer food purchasing practices, eating behaviors, and perceptions surrounding food safety, consumers consider RDNs and healthcare professionals the top trusted source of information about which foods to eat or avoid during this time. While the majority of the 1,000 survey respondents reported no overall change in their degree of trust in these groups since the pandemic began, 23% of respondents now have more trust in RDNs. In addition to RDNs and other healthcare professionals, other top trusted sources of food and nutrition information include scientific studies and government agencies, while news articles and related headlines were noted as the least trusted sources on this topic.

Regarding how COVID-19 has affected consumer purchasing and eating behaviors, 36% of survey respondents report purchasing more packaged foods, with 33% now having a more favorable opinion of packaged foods. Consumers are also evaluating their food purchases through a more healthful lens: One-quarter of respondents pay more attention to the healthfulness of the foods they’re purchasing, and 43% report eating more healthfully since the beginning of the pandemic.

As behaviors around food and nutrition evolve as the pandemic continues to unfold, the role of RDNs and other health professionals will remain critical as consumers increasingly turn to this group for well-informed guidance and trustworthy support.

If you’re interested in learning more, read the full IFIC report here.