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Exploring consumer attitudes towards functional foods: A qualitative study

Wilkinson, S. B. T., Pidgeon, Nicholas Frank ORCID:, Lee, J., Pattison, C. and Lambert, N. 2004. Exploring consumer attitudes towards functional foods: A qualitative study. Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional & Medical Foods 4 (3-4) , pp. 5-28.

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The link between what people eat and susceptibility to disease is well known. However, most consumers in the Western World eat a diet inadequate to prevent ill health, despite the presence of clear nutritional recommendations. One approach to facilitating the consumption of a healthy diet has been the development of so-called functional foods. Functional foods are food products which have been modified to include a health benefit beyond the traditional nutrients it would normally contains. However, the acceptance of these products is likely to be consumer driven. This study utilises focus groups and qualitative methodology to examine consumer awareness of: the links between diet and health in general, foods with health benefits, awareness of functional foods, perceived barriers to uptake and finally takes a novel approach by asking consumers to generate ideal scenarios for functional foods. Consumers were aware of the strong links between diet and health and named fruit and vegetables as the key to a healthy diet. The term functional food was unknown to the participants but they were aware of several such foods. Barriers to uptake of functional foods centred on control, cost and a general distrust of companies producing and selling such products. The advent of nutrigenomics offering the possibility of identifying an individual's genetic susceptibility towards particular diseases and consequent nutritional remedies is important to the evolution of functional foods. Hence this topic was explored within the focus groups. Having a genetic susceptibility to a particular illness segmented the participants into three sub-groups regarding the acceptability of functional foods. The first group were science embracing, the second conditional and the third negatives. Finally, interpretation of the focus group data yielded four design rules for the development of new functional foods, namely: inversion, subterfuge, inclusiveness and authenticity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
T Technology > TX Home economics
Uncontrolled Keywords: Choice; Health food; Attitude; Consumer
Publisher: Haworth
ISSN: 1089-4179
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 09:40

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