Emerging Trends for Health and Functional Food Products in China

Peter Lee
TNS Asiapanel China

INTRODUCTION

According to the World Health Organisation, the number of overweight and obese people worldwide is rising rapidly. In 1995, it was estimated that there were 200 million people worldwide who were clinically obese. By the year 2000, this number had jumped to around 300 million people.

This trend has serious public health implications with various illnesses and conditions having links to diet. Heart disease, diabetes, certain forms of cancer, and strokes can all be linked to poor or imbalanced diets. This in turn has significant implications for food companies and the way they conduct their business as they face increasing pressure from consumers and health care groups to address the issue.

It is well known that McDonalds has started to introduce more healthy items such as salads to its menu to deflect criticism of contributing to the problem. More recently, the fast food giant has made a decision to phase out “super-sizing” (the option for customers to have larger portions for a small additional price) by the end of 2004, and in the United Kingdom the company has decided to reduce the amount of salt it adds to its French fries by about a quarter. Not to be outdone, Burger King introduced its low fat chicken sandwich towards the end of last year.