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The opinion of Dutch dietitians about functional foods

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Abstract Objective 

To obtain information about Dutch dietitian's attitudes, perceived knowledge, training preferences, counselling procedures, opinions about post-launch monitoring, and personal consumption of functional foods. Design 

A self-administered, 62-item, postal survey in 2002. Subjects 

Five hundred randomly selected registered dietitians. The response rate was 49% (n = 238). Results 

The responders (mean age ± SD: 40 ± 9 years) had regular contact with clients (90%), and many (71% of 90%) advised about functional food use. Sixty-nine per cent hardly consumed any functional food themselves. Eighty-seven per cent of the responders would greatly appreciate courses given by scientists. Confusion existed about usage practices, target groups, safety, efficacy, and claims: between 42 and 89% agreed with the statements about uncertainties. Nonetheless, 69% felt that functional foods could theoretically contribute to good bodily functioning. Ninety per cent thought post-launch monitoring (PLM) important, but ideas about a common dietetic contribution to PLM did not emerge. Conclusions 

Although functional foods potentially contribute to a healthful diet, there is still confusion among dietitians about claims, safety, efficacy and product-handling aspects. It is time to meet dietitians’ repeated requests to provide education by noncommercial experts. In the meantime, dietitians themselves should have more say in the PLM debate because they should and could play an important role.
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Keywords: attitude; counselling practices; paramedics; post-launch monitoring

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Nutrition and Health, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands 2: Department of Human Nutrition and Epidemiology, Wageningen University and Research Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: 2004-02-01

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