More than 2000 years ago, Hippocrates said that “Let food is thy medicine”. This concept underlines the definition of functional foods used by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) as Any food or food component that provide a health benefit on beyond to its basic nutrition.
IFIC is keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer attitudes toward functional foods with its most recent quantitative survey conducted in March 2002. Cogent Research of Cambridge, Massachusetts conducted telephone surveys with 1004 randomly selected US adults, those surveys provided data that build on the quantitative data collected in 1998 and 2000, continuing the trend since 1998, almost all consumers (94%) agree that certain foods have health benefits that go beyond the basic nutrition and may even reduce the risk of health diseases. Consumers express little familiarity with the terms commonly used to describe this concept including “Functional foods” (62% like it, whereas 27% dislike it), even less well liked is” Nutraceuticals” (only 34 % like it, 49% dislike it). Still, 85% of Americans are either very interested or somewhat interested in learning more about functional foods. This level of interest has been consistently strong since 1998.
As in 1998 and 2000, a majority of consumers believe that they have a great amount of control over their health (68%). They overwhelmingly believe that food and nutrition play a great role in maintaining or improving the overall health (71%) and the proportion is even greater than the proportion of individuals who believe that exercise (63%) or family health history (41%) is a key determinant of health. Although more than half 54% of the respondents are reducing the amounts of certain foods or food components in their diets. 35% are adding foods or beverages for their health benefits particularly vegetables, fruits, and water.
Overall 44% of consumers associate foods or food components with a reduced risk of cancer, often naming fruits and vegetables. A lightly large number of consumers (53%) associate foods with heart health including fish or fish oil, garlic, and fiber.
Almost two-thirds of Americans say that they are eating at least one food to receive a functional health benefit. Although these results are not significantly different from those from the survey conducted in 2000, they do represent a significant increase from the results obtained in a survey conducted in 1998, when asked about specific associates between health and food, awareness of the connection between calcium and osteoporosis remains high. 64% are aware of the osteoporosis and known the calcium role on it, while 34% known about the health benefits of antioxidants and cancer prevention, while 23% know the importance of soy in heart disease. In concluding I would like to say that consumers are deeply concerned about how their healthcare is managed, given and the cost of treatment. The consumers are upset about modern medical technology, due to their high fee rates, the treatment cost is much more in a peak level, to afford for it there is a doubt arise that everyone can get this kind of treatment by paying a huge money for their health recovery process.
The consumers are seeking complementary or alternative beneficial foods or food products nowadays for their health management. So a good opinion about functional foods on their daily health remains constant on consumers mind.
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