White-coated talking heads convince many Japanese


How did your natto eating habits change? graph of japanese opinionFollowing a link I spotted entitled Nearly Half Believe “Expert” Health Advice Dispensed on Boob Tube on Rising Sun of Nihon, I tracked down the original survey on health information dispensed by television programs, conducted by the Institute of Future Technology in the middle of February. The only demographic information available is that 1,055 people completed a web-based survey.

This survey was conducted after the Aru Aru Daijiten natto scandal blew up, so that should be kept in mind when viewing the results.

Research results

First, around six in ten said they had worries about the health of either themselves or their families.

Q1: Who do you most trust regarding health information? (Sample size=1,055)

Doctor, nurse, other health professionals33%32%
Newspaper articles15%13%
Television news11%12%
Official web sites10%12%
Health information television programs7%4%
Non-specialist books or magazines4%3%
Word of mouth3%8%
Personal internet sites3%2%
Pharmacists, pharmacy employees2%3%
Health information magazines1%3%
Nothing/no-one in particular10%9%

Note that these percentages are read off a chart so may be slightly inaccurate!

When asked why they watched health information television programs, the top reason was to get easily understandable information on how to be healthy, but also significant (about four in ten said so) was that they were watched not for the health aspect in particular, but they were entertaining in themselves.

Regarding how useful the information presented in these shows were, the most common answer, by over seven in ten, was that they judged them on a case-by-case basis. However, seven in ten also said that they had purchased goods based on recommendation by such television programs.

Q2: Why do you have confidence in health information television programs? (Sample size=1,055, multiple answer)

Specialists appear and explain matters47.5%
The program also discusses the negative side38.8%
Newspaper articles or health magazines, etc, have also rated the claims33.9%
They test the claims on people26.7%
By using videos or graphics, things are easy to understand25.1%
Members of the public or famous people give testimonials16.6%
Other television programs make these claims14.7%
The program is from a trustworthy television station13.4%
People around me talk about the issue11.1%
The product is on sale6.9%
The claims are effective overseas too6.3%
Famous MC or commentator appears3.5%
Don’t watch health information television programs10.0%

Although only about one in five said they had seen the infamous natto diet episode of “Hakkutsu! Aruaru Daijiten” (or Encyclopedia of Living, as it’s known in English), nearly seven in ten heard about it on the grapevine. Three in five also said they would continue to watch health information television programs, but try to do so calmly.

Q3: How did your natto eating habits change after watching Aruaru Daijiten? (Sample size=1,055)

Wasn’t in the habit of eating natto, but started (or tried to, but it was sold out) after I heard about the diet2.9%
I do eat natto, but increased (or tried to, but it was sold out) the quantity consumed after I heard about the diet11.7%
I do eat natto, but didn’t increase the quantity consumed68.9%
Wasn’t in the habit of eating natto, and didn’t want to start after I heard about the diet16.5%
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