This work investigated the consumer awareness, attitudes and practices related to health and diet issues in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area, Enugu State. A total of 400 respondents were selected using simple random sampling technique. A structured questionnaire was used to elicit information on demographic and socio-economic characteristics knowledge, attitude and practice of respondents on health and diet issues. The result showed that majority (57.5%) of the respondents were male while 42.5% were female. The age range were between 18-25 (26.3%) and 26-30 (17%) years. It was observed that 46.6% of the respondents were single while 44.6% were married. Majority were Christians (73.9%) and Igbos (76.0%). The family size of the respondents were mainly 1-3 (46.6%), 4-5 (25.5%) and 6-7 (18%). They were mostly farmer (39%) and civil servant (21.2%). Many (44.0%) of the respondents had secondary education, 16.8% had primary education, 13.0% had tertiary education and 26.0% had no formal education. Most of the respondents received a monthly income of N10000-20000 (30.8%) and N21000-30000 (18.5%). More than half (53.8%) of the respondents had fair knowledge, 31.0% had poor knowledge and 15.2% had good knowledge of health and diet issues. It was revealed that (48.5%) of the respondents had fair attitude towards health and diet issues, 35.5% had good attitude towards health and diet issues. Many (73.0%) of the respondents have heard about dietary supplements. Score (45.8%) of the respondents heard about dietary supplement through radio/television, 5.3% heard from hospitals/clinics and nutrition education program. It was revealed that 52.0% of the respondent has taken dietary supplements whereas 48.0% of them have not. Also, many (69.5%) of the respondents examined expiry dates of food items before they bought them. Only few of the respondents (5.3%) always used nutrition facts when purchasing food products. Forty-one percent of the respondents did not check nutritional label at all because they are difficult to use and understand, 46.5% of the respondents find it hard to read and understand nutritional facts and 37.5% had difficulty to see the tiny print of nutritional facts. A good (46.3%) of the respondents did not buy low fat or fat free food regularly but 43.2% of them bought low fat or fat free foods regularly. Majority (44.5%) of the respondents were currently reducing their salt or sodium intake while 40.7% were not. A significant (P=0.02) association existed between respondents nutrition knowledge and purchase of low fat foods. Nutrition knowledge was positively related with identification of sodium inscription (i.e. the quality of sodium) on food products at a p–value of 0.04. Low utilization of nutrition labels was observed amongst the respondents.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Title page i
Table of contents v
List of tables vii
List of figures viii
1.1 Background of the study 1
1.2 Statement of problems 4
1.3 Objectives of the study 5
1.3.1 General objective 5
1.3.2 Specific objectives 5
1.4 Significance of the study 5
2.1 Consumers 7
2.2 Consumer awareness 8
2.3 Consumer awareness in relation to nutritional knowledge 9
2.4 Diet related diseases 10
2.5 Awareness of diet-disease relationships 11
2.6 Diet and cancer 13
2.7 Adolescence and diet 15
2.8 Measures of knowledge and attitudes 16
2.9 Attitudinal barriers to dietary change 17
2.10 Food labeling 19
2.11 Dietary fats and oils 21
2.12 Dietary practices 23
2.13 Urbanization and dietary habits 24
MATERIALS AND METHODS
3.1 Study design 26
3.2 Area of study 26
3.3 Population of study 27
3.4 Sampling and sampling techniques 27
3.4.1 Sample Size 27
3.4.2 Sampling procedure 28
3.5 Preliminary activities 28
3.5.1 Preliminary Visits 28
3.5.2 Training of Research Assistants 29
3.5.3 Ethical Approval 29
3.6 Data collection 29
3.6.1 Questionnaire Administration 29
3.6.2 Awareness of dietary supplements, nutrition attitudes 30
3.7 Statistical analysis 30
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
4.1 Demographic and Socio-economic characteristics of respondents 32
4.2 Consumers knowledge/awareness of health and diet issues 36
4.2.1 Respondents knowledge of nutrition 38
4.2.2 Respondents knowledge of fat and cholesterol 41
4.2.3 Respondents knowledge of nutrient functions 36
4.3 Respondents attitude towards health and diet issues 44
4.4 Respondents awareness and use of dietary supplements 49
4.5 Respondents food label use 53
4.6 Respondents nutrient inclusion and restriction practices 58
4.7 Relationship between respondent’s knowledge and use of food label 61
CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1 Conclusion 63
5.2 Recommendations 63
LIST OF TABLES
Table 4.1a Demographic/personal characteristics of respondents 34
Table 4.1b Socio-economic characteristics of the respondents 35
Table 4.2.1 Overall Knowledge grades of respondents 37
Table 4.2.2 Respondents knowledge scores on fat and cholesterol 40
Table 4.2.3 Respondents knowledge of nutrient functions 43
Table 4.3.1 Respondents Attitude towards health and diet issues 46
Table 4.3.2 Respondents attitude towards health and diet issues 48
Table 4.4 Respondents awareness and use of dietary supplements 52
Table 4.5 Respondents food label use 57
Table 4.6 Respondents nutrient inclusion and elimination practices 60
Table 4.7 Relationship between respondents knowledge and use of food label 62
LIST OF FIGURES
Fig. 2.6 Source: FDA Health and Diet Surveys 14
Fig. 2.13 Shepherds conceptual model of factors associated with food choice 25
Fig. 3.1 Map of Enugu State showing Igbo Etiti LGA. 26
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Diet-related chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis, are a large burden to the health and economy of nations around the world (Christina, 2015). Recent years have seen a tremendous growth in scientific knowledge of the relationship between diet and health (Joanne et al., 2009). This increase in knowledge has informed dietary recommendations to promote health and longevity and has sparked national campaigns to educate people on more healthful eating habits (Joanne et al., 2009). Recent trends in food demand show that the concept of diet has undergone a radical transformation in recent years (Annunziata and Pascale, 2009), in addition to nutritional and sensory properties, it plays an important role in the maintenance of health, on psycho-physical well-being and prevention of certain diseases. Today, foods are not intended to only satisfy hunger and to provide necessary nutrients for humans but also to prevent nutrition-related diseases and improve physical and mental well-being of the consumers (Roberfroid, 2002; Menrad, 2003). Numerous studies in literature have tried to estimate the value of health for individuals under different conceptualizations. Olsen (2006) and Sparks et al. (2001) refer to the ‘health-conscious self-identity’ as the extent to which health is an important component of a person’s self-concept. Likewise, Maddock et al. (2009) use ‘involvement in healthy eating’ to evaluate the importance of healthy eating to individuals. Other authors measure health concern to capture individuals concerns about food (diet) and health-related issues or use health interests to evaluate the value of health for an individual person (Bower, 2003; Sun, 2008). The importance of concerns about health can be interpreted as a consequence of a number of factors not just related to socio-demographic changes occurred in society over recent years, but also to the important progress made in terms of scientific knowledge about the interactions between diet and health(Annunziata and Pascale, 2009). On the one hand, therefore, the increase in life expectancy, augmented occurrence of diseases correlated to incorrect dietary habits, including the chronic diseases such as osteoporosis, cancer, cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, and diabetes that are linked to significant increases in sanitary costs, which have made health an increasingly important buying motivation in food choices (Aschemann, 2008). Moreover, there are many scientific studies that have shown over the past decade, with an abundance of experimental data, the close connection between diet and health, particularly in relation to chronic diseases, and have encouraged the development of a growing spectrum of products such as nutraceuticals, medifoods, vitafoods (Annunziata and Pascale, 2009). It follows that the attention of consumers towards healthy eating is no longer exclusively focused on the reduction or elimination of substances that are considered negative, but tends to move towards attributes that characterize the product in positive terms, such as freshness and naturalness, shifting demand towards products with a strong healthy image, as confirmed by market research conducted at international level (Eurobarometro, 2006; Nielsen, 2008). Currently, the healthy foods and drinks market is performing well, in terms of innovation and market penetration; according to Nielsen data (2007) the healthy foods in Europe have a turnover of € 5.7billion. This trend is fully confirmed when referred to the Italian market, where demand for health products has, over the five-year 2002/06, the highest growth rate in terms of purchase volumes (ISMEA, 2007).
Different researchers conclude that a better understanding of consumers' awareness and perception of healthy foods and its determinants are key success factors for market orientation and development and for successfully negotiating market opportunities (Geeroms et al., 2008).
According to Annunziata and Pascale (2009), it is essential to consider that healthy attributes are credence goods and therefore cannot be checked directly by consumers, consequently the process of consumer decision-making is largely influenced by the level and quality of information they possesses and which is supplied on the market. So health information has been proved to influence choice and other attitudinal and intentional variables in food science studies. Some evidence exists that health information increases consumer awareness or expectations about the healthiness of a product and produces more positive attitudes towards it (Kozup et al., 2003);likewise, health claims influence consumers’ preferences (Roosen et al., 2007) and increase their intention to purchase the product (Roe, 1999). In the same time providing food quality or safety information to consumers may result in considerable welfare effects (Mazzocchi et al., 2004). Information is most likely to be efficient and effective when it manages to meet specific needs of the target audience so it has long been acknowledged that understanding consumers’ information seeking behaviour and information processing are crucial to making better marketing decisions.
1.2 STATEMENT OF PROBLEMS
Globally, man is now facing a serious health crisis because of rapid increases in overweight and obesity rates. The percentage of overweight individuals in Nigeria ranged from 20.3%–35.1%, while the prevalence of obesity ranged from 8.1%–22.2% (Innocent et al.,2013), and diet-related illnesses are rising. Additionally, costs for treating these illnesses have skyrocketed (Frazao, 2006). Based on these statistics, every effort must be made to promote healthier diets and lifestyle (Annunziata and Pascale, 2009). The task of promoting a healthy diet is a daunting one because consumers often believe their diets are healthier than they actually are (Variyam et al., 2001). If consumers mistakenly believe that their diets are already healthy, campaigns to promote healthful diets will be useless (Shim et al., 2014). For nutritional intervention programs to be effective, researchers must know consumer’s level of awareness and attitudes of the links between food consumption, diet and health-related issues.
1.3 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
1.3.1 General Objective
The general objective of this study is to assess consumer awareness, attitudes and practices related to health and diet issues in Igbo-Etiti Local Government Area, Enugu State.
1.3.2 Specific Objectives
The specific objectives are to:
1. determine demographic information (sector, gender, age, education, ethnicity, household size and income) of the study population.
2. ascertain the respondents awareness on health and diet issues.
3. evaluate the attitudes of respondents on health and diet issues.
4. determine the health and diet practices of the respondents.
5. examine the extent of use of dietary supplements by the respondents.
6. determine the use and impact of food labels.
7. determine the relationship or influence of knowledge on practice of the respondents.
1.4 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY
The results from this study will contribute a great deal to the study carried out by other researchers in the same field. The findings of the study will equally show the connection between diet and health, particularly in relation to chronic diseases. It will also help to assess whether the level of awareness of diet-related health issues are influenced by age, education, gender, household composition, household income, marital status and body mass indices.
It will also be beneficial to the government as a health policy formulation tool to prevent nutrition-related diseases and improve physical and mental well-being of the consumers. They will be able to come up with an appropriate diet-health related policy which will help mitigate diet-related health problem before it reaches epidemic proportions in the country.
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