Advertisement

Public Health, Ethics, and Functional Foods

  • Doris SchroederEmail author
Article

Abstract

Functional foods aim to provide a positive impact on health and well-being beyond their nutritive content. As such, they are likely candidates to enhance the public health official’s tool kit. Or are they? Although a very small number of functional foods (e.g., phytosterol-enriched margarine) show such promise in improving individual health that Dutch health insurance companies reimburse their costs to consumers, one must not draw premature conclusions about functional foods as a group. A large number of questions about individual products’ safety, efficacy, and affordability need to be answered before they might become an important part of the public health agenda. More importantly, though, the costs and benefits of functional foods relative to alternative mechanisms of public health improvement need to be ascertained. Alternative scenarios that warrant investigation are mainly the supply of nutraceutical ingredients in pill form targeting “at risk” groups and consumer education on diet and lifestyle.

Keywords

ethical matrix food ethics functional foods nutrition public health 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to thank Dr. Angus Dawson for inviting me to present this paper at “Food, Ethics and the Public’s Health,” organized by the Center for Law, Ethics and Society at Keele University in June 2005. I would also like to thank participants for very useful comments, Franck Meijboom and Peter Aggett for valuable information, two anonymous reviewers for excellent suggestions for improvements and Armin Schmidt and Angus Dawson for comments on an earlier draft.

References

  1. Breslow L. (1995) Determinants of Public Health. In: Reich W. T. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Bioethics. New York, Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, pp. 2153–2157Google Scholar
  2. Chadwick R., Henson S., Moseley B., Koenen G., Liakopoulos M., Midden C., Palou A., Rechkemmer R., Schroeder D., von Wright A. (2003) Functional Foods. Berlin, Springer VerlagGoogle Scholar
  3. Childs, N. M. “Functionality of natural foods.” Paper presentation at Bord Bia, Ireland, 2002. http://www.bordbia.ie/events/kinsale2002/childs.pdf, cited following Verbeke 2006, see below. 2002Google Scholar
  4. Department of Health. Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation. (London: The Stationery Office, Cm 4386, 1999)Google Scholar
  5. Diplock A. T., Aggett P. J., Ashwell M., Bornet F., Fern E. B., Roberfroid M. B. (1999) Scientific Concepts of functional foods in Europe: a consensus document. British Journal of Nutrition, 81(4 Supl. 1):S1–S27Google Scholar
  6. Duffy J. (1995) History of Public Health. In: Reich W. T. (ed.) Encyclopedia of Bioethics. New York, Simon and Schuster, Macmillan, pp. 2157–2161Google Scholar
  7. Goldberg I. (1994). Functional Foods, Designer Foods, Pharmafoods, Neutraceuticals. London, Chapman & HallGoogle Scholar
  8. Heasman M., Mellentin J. (2001) The Functional Foods Revolution - Healthy People, Healthy Profits? London, Earth ScanGoogle Scholar
  9. International Food Information Council. “Functional Foods,” available at: http://ific.org/nutrition/functional/index.cfm, accessed: 14 November 2006. 2004Google Scholar
  10. Kiehl D. (2001) Können gentechnisch veränderte Lebensmittel Mangelerscheinungen dämpfen?. Das Parlament 51(44):9Google Scholar
  11. Mackay, J. and G. Mensah (eds.) The Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke, World Health Organisation, Geneva: Switzerland, 2004, available at: http://www.who.int/cardiovascular_diseases/resources/atlas/en/index.html, accessed: 14 November 2006. 2004Google Scholar
  12. Mathers J. C. (2000) Dietary Strategies to Reduce the Burden of Cancer and Cardiovascular Disease in the UK. British Journal of Nutrition. 84(Supplement 2):S211–S216CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Menrad M., Hüsing B., Menrad K., Reiß T., Beer-Borst S., Zenger C. A. (2000) Technology Assessment: Functional Food. Bern, Schweizerischer WissenschaftsratGoogle Scholar
  14. Mepham B. (1996) Preface. In: Mepham B. (ed.) Food Ethics. London, Routledge pp. xi–xivGoogle Scholar
  15. Mepham B. (1996) Ethical Analysis of Food Biotechnologies: An Evaluative Framework. In: Mepham B. (ed.) Food Ethics. London, Routledge, 101–119Google Scholar
  16. Mill J. S. (1982) On Liberty. London, PenguinGoogle Scholar
  17. Plaami, S. P., M. Dekker, W. van Dokkum, and T. Ockhuizen. Functional Foods - Position and Future Perspectives (The Hague: NRLO report no 2000/15, 2001). 2001Google Scholar
  18. Statistisches Landesamt, “Statistik Aktuell – Preisentwicklung in Baden-Württemberg,” available at: http://www.statistik.baden-wuerttemberg.de/Veroeffentl/Statistik_AKTUELL/Preise.pdf, accessed: 22 July 2005. 2002Google Scholar
  19. Statistisches Landesamt, “Verbraucherpreisindex fuer Baden-Württemberg von 2002 bis 2005,” available at: http://www.statistik.baden-wuerttemberg.de/Veroeffentl/Statistische_Berichte/4117_05001.pdf, accessed: 14 November 2006. 2006Google Scholar
  20. Verbeke, W. and J. Viaene, “Consumer Attitudes Towards Functional Foods: Exploring Knowledge, Perception and Acceptance,” in EURSAFE Preprints, 2001, pp. 401–404Google Scholar
  21. Verbeke W. (2005) Consumer acceptance of functional foods: socio-demographic, cognitive and attitudinal determinants. Food Quality and Preference. 16(1):45–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Verbeke W. (2006) Functional foods: Consumer willingness to compromise on taste for health?. Food Quality and Preference, 17:126–131CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. VGZ. “Veel gestelde vragen Becel pro.activ,” available at: http://www.vgz.nl/default.asp?pagina_id = 475, accessed: 14 November 2006. 2005Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Professional EthicsUniversity of Central LancashirePrestonUK

Personalised recommendations