A Research on Determination of Consumers’ Awareness and Usage of Functional Foods
Aim: Functional foods not only play a big role to meet the main nutritional requirement but also have important role on human physiology, and metabolic functions so that they protect the human body from the diseases and provide a healthy life. This study was planned and carried out to determine the consumer usage of functional foods and their thoughts on whether some foods are functional foods or not. Subjects and Methods: Nine hundred healthy volunteers (582 female, 318 male) living in Ankara, İzmir and Konya participated in this study, whose ages were between 20-64 years and were graduated at least from a high school. The data were collected by face to face interviewers using a questionnaire. Data were evaluated by SPSS program. Results: Most of the participants had defined that the functional foods as healthy (55.7%) but 29.2% of the participants had no idea of functional foods. The usage of the functional foods was 39.7%, and among this group (n= 357) more than half of the participants (55.2%) were using 1-3 times per week. Participants had reported functional foods as; green tea (66.7%), whole/mixed cereal breads (65.3%), kefir (63.0%), nigella seeds (61.9%), carob tree fruit (61.8%) and ginger (61.2%). Conclusion: Behaviors related to functional foods are influenced by variables such as gender, age, education level. Increasing awareness of functional foods also influences individual food consumption preferences. It is important that the health claims for functional foods must be correct and should not be misunderstood by the consumers. It may be advisable to carry out further research on functional foods, to reach international consensus on objective scientific criteria, and to work towards informing the media and the society about the subject properly. All those are considered to be effective for the promotion of healthy nutrition knowledge and in the reduction of health expenditure.