The Diet-Health Nexus: Communicating Emerging Evidence

Award Year:
William Hallman, Neal Hooker
Food Policy
As increasing numbers of Americans try to eat healthily and reduce their risk of chronic disease, they are paying more attention to product ingredients, labeling, advertising, and information from a variety of sources about the health benefits of foods and beverages. They are also spending more on foods that they believe are "heart-healthy" or can reduce their risk for certain cancers. But given the level of scientific uncertainty surrounding the health effects of food, what are consumers getting for their money? Co-PIs William K. Hallman, Ph.D. and Neal H. Hooker, Ph.D. study how information is used in food claims and marketing, as well as how adeptly consumers grasp the information provided. Their project, The Diet-Health Nexus: Communicating Emerging Evidence, examines how information is crafted and conveyed; how older consumers understand and evaluate food claims and dietary advice; and whether the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulatory approach has educated consumers about the limits of scientific evidence and the accuracy of health claims. Drs. Hallman and Hooker will produce recommendations on how to better inform consumers. Their project should help shape the FDA's efforts to revise, or perhaps even revamp, its policies for regulating health claims by food and beverage manufacturers and producers.