Public health reliant on evidence-backed functionality

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public health nutrition, Nutrition

As the global functional food segment reportedly exceeds $100bn in sales, one science group says further growth may depend on how manufacturers support innovative research and the delivery of evidence-health based benefits.

The claims and figures were cited by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) ahead of the 'Wellness 09: At the Forefront of Food & Health' event, which takes place in Chicago next month. The gathering marks attempts to highlight the potential for proven functional benefits in food and supplement products.

Professor Roger Clemens, an IFT spokesperson from the University of Southern California, told NutraIngredients.com that a number of surveys continue to highlight strong consumer desire for foods offering nutrition benefits as part of a healthier lifestyle.

Clemens claimed that the pressure was now on the food and supplement industry to enter into cooperation with universities and other research centres to ensure even basic clinical studies are taking place to overcome regulatory hurdles like health claims legislation.

“If these activities are impeded, then the next generation of health products will be markedly delayed and potential benefits relative to improved public health nutrition and policy will falter,”​ he stated. “At this time, it is imperative that collaborative efforts advance the science that ultimately contributes to more healthful food choices”.

Government pressure

Clemens said that recent comments by the Japanese government citing food as a one of many key areas of alternative health care were reflected increasingly by authorities all over the world.

“Numerous government agencies and health groups have provided considerable evidence that foods and lifestyles impact the quality of health and life,”​ he stated.

In this market, IFT claims that events such as Wellness 09​can offer the industry vital information on the challenges facing, and research that can be made available to, manufacturers.

Wellness 09 will include presentations on identifying new markets for innovation and research, a number of scientific perspectives on products and segments and wider details on functional food regulations, the allergen-free market, health and wellness product strategies, claimed the organisers.

The event, which is presented by Food Technology magazine, will run from 25 to 26 March this year.

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