Would Functional Agricultural Foods Improve Human Health?
Concern over diet-health relationships has moved to the forefront of public health concerns in the UK and much of the developed world. It has been estimated, for example, that obesity costs the UK National Health Service up to £6b per year (Rayner and Scarborough, 2005), but if all consumers were to follow recommended healthy eating guidelines there would be major implications for food consumption, land use and international trade (Srinivasan et al, 2006). This is unlikely to happen, at least in the short term, but it is realistic to anticipate some dietary adjustment toward the recommendations, resulting in an improvement in diet quality (Mazzocchi et al, 2007). Although consumers are reluctant to make major changes to their diets, they may be prepared to substitute existing foods for healthier alternatives. Three of the most prominent nutritional recommendations are to consume more fruit and vegetables, which contain phytochemicals beneficial to health, reduce consumption of saturated fatty acids (SFA) and increase intake of long-chain n-3 fatty acids (FA). In the first case, consumption of fruit and vegetables has been stable at around three 80 g portions per person per day according to the Health Survey for England. It is estimated that 42,200 deaths per year could be avoided in England and 411,000 Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALYs) could be saved if fruit and vegetable consumption were increased to the recommended 5 portions per day (Ofcom 2006). As well as continuing to encourage people to eat more, it could be desirable to ‘intensify’ the beneficial phytochemical content of existing fruit and vegetables.
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- Srinivasan, Chittur S. & Shankar, Bhavani & Irz, Xavier T., 2005.
"An Assessment of the Potential Consumption Impacts of WHO Dietary Norms in OECD Countries,"
2005 International Congress, August 23-27, 2005, Copenhagen, Denmark
24564, European Association of Agricultural Economists.
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- Poulsen, Jacob, 1999. "Danish consumers’ attitudes towards functional foods," MAPP Working Papers 62, University of Aarhus, Aarhus School of Business, The MAPP Centre.
- William Kaye-Blake & Kathryn Bicknell & Caroline Saunders, 2005. "Process versus product: which determines consumer demand for genetically modified apples? ," Australian Journal of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society, vol. 49(4), pages 413-427, December.
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