About half of consumers believe they get at least “most” of the nutrients/food components they need for good health. However, three out of four consumers report concerns that they are not getting enough. More specifically, the findings of a recent survey show women are more likely to be concerned about nutrient inadequacy, while older consumers are less likely to be concerned. FunctionalFoods

“Consumer perceptions are not consistent with the reality of their dietary intake,” said Sarah Romotsky, a registered dietitian and associate director of health and wellness at International Food Information Council (IFIC), “Sometimes they think it’s adequate when it’s not.”

For nutrients such as vitamin D, 68% perceive to be getting enough vs. the 32% who actually are, when measured by the Dietary Reference Intakes recommended by experts. There is also a stark disconnect in the case of potassium (61% vs. less than 3%) and fiber (67% vs. 5%).

But the opposite is true of B vitamins, with a smaller percentage perceiving that they consume an adequate amount (60%) vs. the percentage that actually do (90%).

“This is a testament to [B vitamin-] fortified foods, where consumers may not realize the added value,” Romotsky said.

KNOWLEDGE LACKING, BUT CONSUMERS INTERESTED IN LEARNING

The study also reveals gaps in knowledge and consumption of functional components like omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, flavonoids and zeaxanthin, with one-third or less of the population saying they’re not consuming enough of these components to meet their needs or to get a health benefit.

Still, consumer interest in learning more about functional foods remains high. Almost nine in ten Americans (86%) are interested in learning more about foods that have health benefits beyond basic nutrition. Similar to 2011, almost half of all consumers (45%) are “very interested” while another 42% are “somewhat interested.”

Effective messages about functional foods must address the top barriers to functional food consumption and foster consumer belief in the health benefits that functional foods can confer in order to motivate consumers to achieve and maintain optimal health through diet and lifestyle modification.

[Source:  “Functional Foods Consumer Survey.”  International Food Information Council.  2 Oct. 2013.  Web.  17 Oct. 2013.]