A telephone survey was conducted to determine dietitians' views on nutraceuticals and functional foods.
Using systematic sampling with a random start, 238 names were drawn from the Dietitians of Canada membership. A survey instrument containing mostly open-ended questions and two pages of definitions was pretested and revised. Accurate description was used to analyze and summarize the data with a minimum of interpretation.
Of 180 dietitians contacted, 151 (84%) completed interviews. The majority (n=91, 60%) of respondents thought health claims should be permitted on foods, but only with adequate scientific support for claims and government regulation. Participants overwhelmingly (n=122, 81%) felt that dietitians were the most appropriate professionals to recommend functional foods, but held mixed views of the appropriateness of having dietitians recommend nutraceuticals. However, according to a rating scale of 0 to 10, respondents across all areas of practice believed that it is extremely important for dietitians to become knowledgeable about nutraceuticals (mean +/- standard deviation [SD] = 9.0 +/- 1.2) and functional foods (mean +/- SD = 9.5 +/- 0.9).
Dietitians recommended strict legislation and close monitoring by government; unbiased scientific studies with consensus that the findings support health claims; partnerships with other health professionals, especially pharmacists; and opportunities to gain further knowledge.
Obesity is becoming an increasing health problem and results when energy intake exceeds energy expenditure. Food has a crucial role in weight management. The new EU legislation on nutrition and health claims permits the use of weight regulation and satiety related health claims on foods, if they are based on generally accepted scientific evidence. In this review the current knowledge on food properties, that have been proposed to affect satiety and/or energy expenditure and thus might be useful in weight control are considered, as part of the project "Substantiation of weight regulation and satiety related health claims on foods" funded by the Nordic Innovation Centre. At this point the scientific evidence of the short term effects of dietary fibers and proteins in relation to satiety seems to be convincing. However, it might be challenging to make product specific satiety and weight management claims as the dose response is not always known. On the other hand two step health claims might be applied, for example rich in dietary fibre - dietary fibre can increase satiety or rich in protein - protein can increase satiety.
Successful and responsible introduction of probiotic and prebiotic products into the worldwide marketplace requires labelling for health benefits that meets consumer needs, adheres to regulatory standards and does not overextend scientific evidence. Regulations differ among countries, but underlying all is an emphasis on scientific credibility of any statements of health benefits. This paper considers the value of different types of evidence offered in substantiation of efficacy and reviews different regulatory approaches to labelling for health claims. Limitations of in vitro, animal and different types of human studies used for efficacy substantiation for probiotics and prebiotics are discussed.