Special Report on Symposium on Understanding and Influencing Consumer Food Behaviours for Health: Executive Summary Report

Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2008;17(3):530-539

Food consumption patterns in Asia are rapidly changing. Urbanization and changing lifestyles have diminished the consumption of traditional meals based on cereals, vegetables and root crops. These changes are accompanied by an increasing prevalence of chronic diseases among Asian populations. ILSI Southeast Asia and CSIRO, Australia jointly organized the Symposium on Understanding and Influencing Food Behaviours for Health, focusing on the use of consumer science to improve food behaviour. The goals of the Symposium were to present an understanding of Asian consumers and their food choices, examine the use of consumer research to modify food choices towards better health, illustrate how health programs and food regulations can be utilized effectively to promote healthier choices, and identify knowledge gaps regarding the promotion of healthy food behaviour in Asian populations. There is no difference in taste perception among Asians, and Asian preference for certain tastes is determined by exposure and familiarity largely dictated by culture and its underlying values and beliefs. Cross-cultural validity of consumer science theories and tools derived from western populations need to be tested in Asia. Information on consumption levels and substitution behaviours for foods and food products, obtained using consumer research methods, can guide the development of food regulations and programs that will enable individuals to make healthier choices. Existing knowledge gaps include consumer research techniques appropriate for use in Asian settings, diet-health relationships from consumption of traditional Asian diets, and methods to address the increasing prevalence of over- and undernutrition within the same households in Asia.

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