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Original research
Dietary beliefs and recommendations in inflammatory bowel disease: a national survey of healthcare professionals in the UK


Background The role of diet in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) remains incompletely understood. Knowledge around the actual dietary advice healthcare professionals provide to individuals with IBD is scarce. Our objective was to describe the dietary beliefs of healthcare professionals and dietary recommendations made to people with IBD.

Methodology An online survey regarding IBD-related dietary beliefs and advice provided to patients was distributed to gastroenterologists, dietitians and IBD nurses in the UK.

Results Two-hundred and twenty-three eligible healthcare professionals participated: 107 (48%) believed that diet was involved in IBD development. The most frequently implicated dietary components were processed foods (78%), additives/preservatives (71%), sweet/sugary foods (36%), red meat (36%) and fatty foods (31%). Views were broadly consistent across professions, however, gastroenterologists were significantly more likely to believe red meat and additives/preservatives initiated IBD. One hundred and thirteen participants (53%) believed that diet could trigger disease relapse and 128 (61%) recommended limiting specific foodstuffs to reduce this risk, most commonly high fibre foods. Forty-six (23%) considered recommending a low Fermentable Oligo-, Di- and Monosaccharides and Polyols diet to reduce relapse risk. IBD nurses and healthcare professionals with <5 years experience were most likely to recommend this. Dietitians felt most comfortable providing dietary advice for functional gastrointestinal symptoms in quiescent IBD.

Conclusion Dietary advice in IBD is inconsistent reflecting uncertainty among healthcare professionals. While some consensus exists regarding dietary components implicated in IBD development and relapse, dietary recommendations varied. Future research is required to disentangle these complex relationships, alongside better training and education.

  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • diet
  • ulcerative colitis
  • crohn's disease

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request from the corresponding author.

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