Publication Details

This article was originally published as Patch, C, Tapsell, L and Williams, PG, Overweight consumers' salient beliefs on omega-3-enriched functional foods in Australia's Illawarra region, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 37, 2005, 83-89.


Objective: To determine consumer salient beliefs toward functional foods enriched with omega-3 fatty acids. Design: Focus group interviews with adult consumers using the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) as a theoretical framework. Setting: Community-based residents living in the Illawarra region of New South Wales, Australia. Participants: Forty-two overweight participants (29 female; 13 male) aged 30-80y recruited by advertisement and attending one of six focus groups which were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Analysis: Content analysis was carried out and sub-categories were developed to capture the emerging themes according to the TPB model. Results: Most participants were aware of a range of potential benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, but they had reservations about the ability of omega-3 enriched foods to deliver a health benefit. They were concerned about whether these foods were labelled clearly and about the possibility of overdosing. Family and friends were viewed as important in introducing participants to novel foods on the market. Participants regarded dietitians as a credible source and were least trusting of food companies and scientists. Overall, participants reported that cost was a major barrier and they would not necessarily trade taste for health benefits. Adding omega-3 fatty acids was viewed more as a gimmick rather than a real health benefit. Conclusions and Implications: The consumer attitudes and purchase intentions identified in this study will be helpful to educators as they plan messages and strategies to guide dietary choices related to products enriched with omega-3 fatty acids.