Canadian researchers to unlock functional food habits of older adults

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Functional foods, Nutrition

Armed with a war chest from the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research (CFDR), University of Guelph will seek to understand the factors behind the functional food consumption habits of older adults.

Guelp’s Alison Duncan PhD, RD and Judy Sheeshka PhD, RD, are undertaking a project entitled "Exploration of the consumption, awareness, understanding and motivating factors related to functional foods in older adults".

The project – being funded with a C$50,000 grant from CFDR – is designed to generate data on the consumption of functional foods among older adults, with specific focus on consumption and purchase patterns, promoters and barriers to consumption, information sources, areas where more information is needed, perceived risks, and awareness of functional foods in relation to health.

Moreover, the researchers hope to generate information that will help future functional food development areas by exploring preferred targets for food matrices, bioactive constituents and health areas.

According to CFDR, “this research will equip dietitians with information to navigate their interactions with older adults in order to maximize the potential for functional foods to improve nutrition and health. This will allow dietetic practice to keep pace with the expanding functional food industry and the related need for consumer nutritional guidance”.

"I'm pleased that CFDR can contribute new knowledge in the area of consumer behavior and functional foods,”​ said Mary Sue Waisman, President of CFDR. “People nourish their bodies through food and understanding their interest, motivation, and consumption patterns of foods with functional components will better prepare dietitians to respond to consumers needs in this area.”

The project is due to be completed in 2012.

Canada & functional foods

Canada is emerging as a leading world supplier in functional foods, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, with more than 300 companies involved.

“Many [Canadian companies] are internationally recognized for their bioactive ingredients, such as soluble fibre from oats, barley and pulses; omega-3 fatty acids from fish and flax oil; unsaturated fatty acids from canola oil; plant sterols and stanols from vegetable oils; and protein from soy.

“Industry is also interested in incorporating into food products functional ingredients, such as probiotic bacterial cultures; prebiotics (e.g. fructo-oligosaccharides) from corn; bioactives concentrated from berries and flax; and novel fibres from pulses,”​ said Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.

Revenues generated by Canadian companies in the health and wellness market reached almost C$ 3.0 billion in 2007, says Statistics Canada, with an extra C$ 545 million in exports.

Related topics: Markets

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