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Past Events

Lisbon April 2006:
Consumer Sciences workshop: The metabolic syndrome: the public's perspective. Report from workshop 1. (consumer sciences)

This was the first of two workshops to explore the initial findings from research into the views of consumers around the metabolic syndrome and its perceived health risks; undertaken on behalf of the EU funded Lipgene project.

The research is being led by Professor Maria Daniel Vaz de Almeida of the University of Porto, Portugal and Dr Barbara Stewart of the University of Ulster.

Amongst the topics discussed at the workshop were:

  • The public health impact of the metabolic syndrome. (Introduction to Lipgene.pdf, 600kb download, speaker presentation).
  • Factors influencing food choice and food related behaviour (What influences food choice.pdf, 2.1MB download, speaker presentation).
  • An example of a successful UK-based nutrition education programme, XPERT (X-PERT programme.pdf; speaker presentation or; programme website).
  • Results from a Eurobarometer survey commissioned by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and DG Sanco into consumer’s perception of health risks, in particular to food safety (Risk perception and food safety.pdf, 1.1MB download speaker presentation).
  • Preliminary Findings from Lipgene (see below).
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Preliminary findings from Lipgene

The consumer science aspect of the Lipgene project is investigating consumer's views of:

  • the risks of the metabolic syndrome
  • the risks and benefits of using new agro-food technologies to produce foods
  • the potential option of personalised nutrition advice geared to an individuals genetic make-up.

The research is taking a two staged approach: qualitative research has been undertaken with consumers and stakeholders (e.g. health professionals and the food industry) in Portugal and Northern Ireland; and the themes arising from the qualitative research were used to inform the hypothesis of a 6 countries quantitative study.

A paper outlining the methodology used in developing the questionnaire for the quantitative research has been published (de Almeida et al 2006). - Nutrition Bulletin).
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Consumer Attitudes: Qualitative Results from Portugal and Northern Ireland

Sälvia Pinhäo of the University of Porto, Portugal, presented the findings from qualitative research which explored consumer attitudes to new technologies in primary food production, personalised nutrition as well as awareness of information needs in regard to the metabolic syndrome and its treatment. The data were collected via focus groups and individual interviews across Northern Ireland and Portugal in 2005. (Consumers views.pdf, 1.3MB download, speaker presentation).

Heather Parr from the University of Ulster, UK, focused her presentation on the themes arising from a parallel consultation with various stakeholders (stakeholders views.pdf, 1.1MB download,speaker presentation).

Six Countries Study: Qualitative Results

Informed by the above research, extensive surveying of opinion in 6 European countries has been carried out to establish the level of awareness and acceptance of the metabolic syndrome and the agro-food technologies that may provide an option for tackling its rising prevalence.

Profes Daniel Vaz de Almeida gave an overview of some of the early findings from this 6 countries study. In particular, she identified sub-sections of the population where differences in opinion or attitude lie, which will be of great use when planning future public health strategies. (Quantitative research findings.pdf, 2MB download, speaker presentation).

Dr. Barbara Stewart-Knox described participants' attitudes to their perceived risk of developing the metabolic syndrome and the potential impact that nutrigenomic testing might have on their lives. (Attitudes to personalized nutrition.pdf, 1.2MB download, speaker presentation).
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Findings from the Lipgene research about the public's awareness of the metabolic syndrome and its risk factors will provide an important insight into how we can encourage people to take responsibility for their health and diet. Our food choice is influenced by a number of issues including the potential health consequences of our diet. Ethical issues about where our food has come from are also important to some consumers, and therefore investigating whether foods produced as a result of new technologies will be acceptable to consumers will be an important outcome of the Lipgene project.

A Summary report of this workshop can be downloaded as a pdf here. (Workshop Report.pdf, 40kb download)


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Past Events