Young Consumers’ Demand For Natural Sweeteners
Health conscious consumers are increasingly concerned about the caloric content and glycemic index of sweeteners added to food. Currently, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar in processed foods per day. Young people typically consume higher amounts of sweeteners via candy, sports drinks, and soda (Smed, Jensen et al. 2007). Recently, the American Heart Association issued a statement recommending no more than six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men of added sugar in processed foods per day (Winslow and Wang 2009). Of particular concern is the glycemic index of sweeteners—or how quickly sweeteners raise one’s blood sugar level after consumption. While much of recent concern about added sugar focuses on high fructose corn syrup, other industries, including the honey and beet sugar industries, are likely to be affected by these new recommendations and consumer sentiment. The objective of this research is to measure young consumers’ values of natural sweeteners’ glycemic index and to relate this information to their personal risk-preferences and relationships. This research generates needed information for policy regarding refined sugars and natural sweeteners in processed foods. Our primary hypothesis is that the value of natural sweetener alternatives with different glycemic indexes varies with consumers’ health consciousness. Further, consumers’ valuations are influenced by their own underlying health-risk assessments and social and familial relationships. We hypothesize consumers’ economic risk preferences are correlated with their demand for natural sweetener alternatives. We also hypothesize social and family relationships effect the stability of individual preferences for natural sweeteners.
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