Health, wellness and organic diets

Oates, L 2013, Health, wellness and organic diets, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Health, wellness and organic diets
Author(s) Oates, L
Year 2013
Abstract Sales of organic food in Australia are increasing at least in part because of a belief that organic diets are healthier. Two online surveys explored the attitudes and behaviours of people who identified as dedicated consumers of organic produce, the Organic Consumption Survey (OCS) (N=318) and the Organic Health and Wellness Survey (OHWS) (N=404). The information collected by these surveys suggests that dedicated organic consumers exist across socio-demographic segments and perceive their overall health to be better since moving to an organic diet. Very few studies have investigated health outcomes from organic diets although there are mounting concerns regarding adverse health effects from pesticides.

We conducted a prospective, randomised, single-blinded, crossover study to assess organophosphate (OP) exposure in a group of thirteen Australian adults following a 7 day period on a largely organic diet compared to 7 days on a largely conventional diet. Participants completed an Organic Food Intake Survey, which had been previously piloted, to ensure that a minimum of 80% of their food servings were organic or conventional during each phase. Urinary levels of six dialkylphosphate (DAP) metabolites, produced from OP pesticides, were analysed in first-morning voids collected on day 8 of each phase using GC-MS/MS, with limits of detection at 0.11-0.51 μg/L. Results, which were creatinine corrected to account for urine dilution or concentration, revealed that consumption of organic food for 7 days resulted in a statistically significant reduction in urinary DAPs. The mean total DAP results in the organic phase were 89% lower than in the conventional phase (M=0.032 and 0.294 respectively, p=.013). There was a significant 96% reduction in urinary dimethyl DAPs in the organic vs. conventional phase (M=0.011 and 0.252 respectively, p=.005), and a 49% reduction in diethyl DAPs which was not significant (M=0.021 and 0.042 respectively, p=.170).

The OCS and OHWS surveys confirm that dedicated organic consumers in Australia believe that organic diets are healthier due to reduced pesticide exposure and that they provide contextual and psychological benefits. Findings from the biomonitoring trial further suggest that a mostly organic diet for one week results in a dramatic reduction in OP pesticide exposure in Australian adults. Further research across geographical locations is now required to corroborate these findings and determine their clinical relevance. It is recommended that future research incorporates a wholistic approach to fully capture the potential of organic diets to positively impact health.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) health
organic diets
organic consumers
organophosphate pesticides
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Created: Mon, 29 Jul 2013, 15:09:18 EST by Brett Fenton
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