Document Type

Thesis

Department

Dietetics and Nutrition

First Advisor's Name

Evelyn B. Enrione

First Advisor's Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Zisca Dixon

Third Advisor's Name

Barbara Thomlison

Keywords

functional food, fortified, enriched, enhanced, processed, genetically modified, natural, processed

Date of Defense

3-22-2010

Abstract

The term “functional food” (FF) has a variety of definitions resulting in term ambiguity. It is unclear Registered Dietitians’ (RDs) understanding and practices about FF. A descriptive, cross-sectional study investigated RDs’ perceptions, attitudes and practices regarding FF. A national random sample (n=1800) of RDs was mailed a FF questionnaire, 385 (22%) responded. Given five definitions from food-nutrition authorities, the majority of RDs did not agree on a definition, although three-fourths (n=292, 75.8%) perceived fortified foods as FF. Registered Dietitians agreed FF could improve health (n=266, 69.1%), prevent disease (n=282, 73.2%) and treat clientele (n=246, 63.9%), however were neutral (41.6%) or disagreed (37.7%) FF were herbs, or equivalent to medicine (32.7%, 49.2% respectively). Most RDs (n=290, 75.9%) ate FF; fewer (n=231, 61.4%) professionally recommended them. Nearly all (n=353) indicated interest in learning about FF. Registered Dietitians revealed inconsistencies between their perceptions, attitudes and practices regarding FF. Professional education is needed to resolve discrepancies regarding FF.

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