Aarhus Universitets segl

Breaking down barriers for healthier eating by consumer-led product development

Projekter: ProjektForskning

Se relationer på Aarhus Universitet


Background and state of the art:
There is a pressing need to develop new types of food products that can meet the challenges posed by lifestyle-related diseases (e.g. CVD, Type 2 diabetes, breast-, colorectal cancer and metabolic syndrome) and an increasingly ageing population. While the general relationship between food intake and health is well-established and is, in principle, also understood by large parts of the population, the knowledge on relations between specific food categories and illnesses is scarce, and this may be part of the explanation of why drastic changes in consumer eating habits towards healthier eating have not been forthcoming. Hence, while there have been some positive developments, like an increasing intake of fruits and vegetables, these are offset by negative developments in other areas, like an increasing consumption of sugar-based candy and soft drinks.
The point of departure for this project is that one major reason for this state is that there is a lack of consumer-based development of healthier food products. Healthier food products will improve public health only when consumers actually buy and eat them, and the development of healthier food products that consumers will prefer requires a thorough understanding of the way in which consumers form such preferences. New products need not only be healthy, they also have to fulfill consumers' demand for products that are appealing, tasty, convenient to use, and able to meet needs for variety, experience and stimulation.
There is a need to understand the determinants of food desires, food choices and meal termination. Sensory knowledge and its relation to satiety are of paramount importance for generation of new healthy product concepts. Preliminary data in the literature suggest that use of trigeminal stimulation (strong spices) increase metabolism as well as overall satiety (St-¬Onge, 2005). Work along these lines is very promising and should be pursued both with an aim for direct intervention, but also to understand the underlying neurobiological and gastrointestinal mechanisms in order to be able to design more appropriate foods and meals in the future. The use of bio active food ingredients are largely accepted by the general public because these agents are naturally occurring, well-known, and often harmless. In addition, the gastronomic quality of food products may be improved by adding these compounds.
Habit formation and the development of food preferences are other problems which need to be addressed, particularly with an eye to periods in life when major changes in food habits occur. Implicit learning by exposure (e.g. Schaal et al, Nicklaus et al., Birch) is an important factor in this development and we will address these problems in the project.
This project will thus tie together three areas of knowledge that have not previously been brought together. First, it will build on existing research on determinants of consumer food choice and of health-related behavior. Secondly, it will combine this knowledge with nutritional and epidemiological expertise on what makes a food product healthy. Thirdly, it will relate these two knowledge areas to expertise in consumer-led product development, i.e., the development of products based on a thorough understanding of consumer behavior.
This project has two general aims:
1) To generate knowledge on modifiable factors that prevent and factors that facilitate the purchase and consumption of healthier food products
2) Building on this knowled-ge, to generate new pro-duct concepts that induce healthier food choice
The project will tie together a) research on consumers' health related food choice with b) nutritional and epidemiologi-cal research on what makes a food product healthy, and relate these two knowledge areas to c) expertise in con-sumer-led product develop-ment.
Effektiv start/slut dato01/01/200630/06/2009

ID: 128998289