2007 Consumer Attitudes Toward Functional Foods/Foods For Health
This fifth study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) studied American awareness and attitudes toward functional foods and found, among other things, that a segment of the population considers meat as a functional food. This is the first appearance of meat in this category, in this periodic survey.
General Attitudes toward Health:
63% of U.S. consumers are confident that they have a “great amount” of control over their own health. 75% believe that food and nutrition play the greatest role in maintaining or improving health, while 66% believe it is exercise and 43% believe it is family history. 53% consider heart disease as their top health concern while 33% say weight, 24% cancer, and 13% consider cholesterol to be their top concern. Specific dietary changes implemented over the last year to improve health include consuming less fat, reducing calories, and eating less sugar, as noted by about half of respondents. About one fourth of respondents noted other change including adding more fruits and vegetables, grains, fiber and water. 85% agree that certain foods have health benefits that go beyond basic nutrition and may reduce risk of disease or other concerns.
Awareness and Interest in Functional Foods:
Items mentioned as functional foods include:
- Fruits and vegetables (66%)
- Fish, fish oil, seafood (14%)
- Whole grains (10%)
- Omega-3 fats (2%)
- Herbs and spices (4%)
- Meat/red meat (6%) – Named for the first time as a functional food
When prompted with a list of various foods, the top three types of foods consumers are interested (either “somewhat” or “very”) in consuming for desired health benefits are cereals/breads (94%), meat/poultry/fish (94%), and dairy products (91%).
Consumption Behaviors and Awareness of Food/Health Benefit Pairs:
Awareness of specific food associations has increased among consumers including probiotics and soy proteins.
Communication and Sources of Information on Health and Nutrition:
Nearly three-quarters consider the news media (71%), especially electronic media outlets such as the Internet (52%) and television news (27%), as their top source of information about health and nutrition. Roughly a third of all consumers name medical sources (36%), including physicians (35%), as a top source of information on health and nutrition.
Awareness of the use of individual genetic information to provide personalized nutrition recommendations is on the rise with 25% knowing “a lot” or “a fair amount” about the practice.