Canadian Vending

Features Consumer Behaviour Trends
‘Food Stress’ Forcing Change


March 6, 2008
By Canadian Vending

Topics

The nutritional counselling firm ISA recently released the results of
the fourth part of a survey on changes in eating habits related to the
risks or benefits associated with various foods. This last survey shows
a profound upheaval in eating habits over the past few years.

The nutritional counselling firm ISA recently released the results of the fourth part of a survey on changes in eating habits related to the risks or benefits associated with various foods. This last survey shows a profound upheaval in eating habits over the past few years.

In the course of the four surveys, a total of 1,304 adults were questioned about their eating habits. The most recent survey reached 300 adults in the Montreal census metropolitan area in order to assess changes in eating habits associated with a list of 10 risks (mad cow disease, trans fats, avian flu, etc.) and 10 benefits (omega-3s, fibre, probiotics, etc.).

“Compared to 2004, the results this year show a significant increase in food stress in connection with the risk
associated with certain foods,” said Isabelle Paquet, registered dietitian and founder of ISA.

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In Montreal in 2007, the average food stress generated by a given risk had risen significantly compared to 2004, from 2.81 to 3.44. Food stress is measured by adding up decisions not to buy or not to eat a food product when it is associated with one of 10 risks identified on a measurement scale developed with the help of a dietitian.

In 2007, 85.2 per cent of the people surveyed had decided not to buy or not to eat a food product because it was associated with dietary risk, compared to 77.5 per cent in 2004. Conversely, in 2007, 87 per cent of respondents said they had bought or eaten a food because of its benefits.

Overall, 92 per cent of the people surveyed in 2007 had changed their eating habits because of risks or benefits associated with food. On average, 2007 respondents had made 8.5 changes in their eating habits in relation to the 10 risks and 10 benefits identified on the measurement scale.

Compared to 2004, four risk-related issues had a greater impact in 2007: “hydrogenated or trans fats” (+17.9 points), “high salt content” (+15.2 points), “high sugar content” (+12.8 points) and “fruits and vegetables and fear of pesticides” (+ 6.2 points).

“Science makes progress in explaining the benefits or risks associated with food. The media increase their coverage of these scientific findings, and people experience more and more pressure to change their eating habits. This is the definition of food stress,” added Paquet.

According to the most recent survey, 65.7 per cent of respondents who had attempted to change one of their habits had done so mainly “to reduce the risk of developing a specific health condition or illness.” Only 13.8 per cent of the 2007 respondents said they had made the change “to follow the medical advice of your doctor.”

“Food stress is not the exclusive preserve of older people whose health is fragile. Healthy eating is also a concern shared by every person who wants to stay healthy,” noted Paquet.