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Take politics off the table: A study of Italian youth’s self-managed dairy restriction and healthy consumerism

Abstract : The last 20 years have been characterized by very different dynamics: massive reduction of milk and, to a lesser extent, dairy consumption; fewer positive attitudes towards milk; no reclaims for affordable, public dairy production; the development of a large conversation about the presumed risks associated with the intake of lactose; and semantic battles on non-dairy ‘milk’ alternatives. These new attitudes haven’t been systematically studied. We explore here the links between milk/dairy consumption, health concerns, and trust in medical expertise. Through an online survey of highly educated youth in Italy (N=378) we have investigated: milk and dairy consumption; attitudes towards items carried out by vegan movements; attitudes towards medical expertise and trust in counseling by general practitioners. Results show that anti-speciesist and vegan movements are very little known among consumers. Data display very limited impact of the ideas and concepts of anti-milk movements within our sample. The results highlight that milk consumption shrinking is due to health concern and an unfavorable perception of dangerous consequences in lactose intake, and additionally to a general distrust towards medical expertise and evidence-based arguments. Indeed, we observe a tendency to self-diagnose intolerance/allergies, questioning the role of physicians and medical knowledge in advising for dietary choices among highly educated youth. The analysis of the patterns of consumption and motives clearly shows that health considerations, not politics, are behind the Italian youth’s dairy restrictions. Healthy consumerism emerges as a concept fitting better than political consumerism for interpreting our results.
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Submitted on : Thursday, December 17, 2020 - 12:11:33 PM
Last modification on : Friday, July 2, 2021 - 1:59:53 PM

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Niccolo Morelli, Tommaso Vitale. Take politics off the table: A study of Italian youth’s self-managed dairy restriction and healthy consumerism. Social Science Information, SAGE Publications, 2020, 59 (4), pp.679 - 703. ⟨10.1177/0539018420973596⟩. ⟨hal-03079654⟩

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