A new global report from HealthFocus International has revealed broader issues such as fatigue are more important to consumers than specific health concerns such as heart disease and obesity.
"Tiredness [or] lack of energy is a top health problem — in fact, nonspecific health problems such as this comprise four of the top five," said president of HealthFocus Europe, Peter Wennstrom. "There is an element of denial surrounding the low proportions of shoppers admitting to being overweight — accepting that overweight can still be healthy is on the increase."
Despite this, HealthFocus found fish oils had registered strongly with consumers as a means of disease prevention in 2005, with omega-3 fish oils growing the most rapidly of all supplements in the 14 countries covered in the survey that included Germany, Poland, Spain, the UK, China and India.
Broccoli was considered the vegetable with the most disease-reduction potential. Shoppers were ambivalent to both positive and negative health claims. "Does this reflect a more subconscious awareness in 2005, or merely lost faith?" asked Wennstrom.
Contrary to much other media coverage on the subject, HealthFocus contends that the family unit is becoming more influential in determining food purchases, especially when children are involved, although price is still a prime motivator.
Half of all shoppers were following some kind of dietary regime with a "large proportion of carnivorous shoppers incorporating meatless meals into their dietary regime on a regular basis."
Natural and organic foods remained popular but there had been a dwindling of interest in this category since 2000, "potentially reflecting increased knowledge and media induced scepticism".
Respondents admitted to suffering from information overload, with more than half stating they are sick of being told by experts what to eat.