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Leveraging FDA Health Claims: Understanding the Relationship Between Diet And Health

Wansink, Brian and Matthew M. Cheney (2005). Leveraging FDA Health Claims. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 39(2), 386–398, 2005. doi: 10.1111/j.1745-6606.2005.00020.x

The success of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) health claims in influencing the eating habits of consumers is determined by two factors–knowledge of the product's nutritional properties and understanding of the health benefits provided by these properties. Only then can the consumer establish a concrete relationship between diet and health. There is further motivation to consume a particular product when its health benefits are personally relevant to the consumer.

Analyzing examples from the past can explain why certain health claims were more effective than others. These examples indicate that health claims can be made successful by targeting a specific population, through considerable media attention, marketing campaigns of companies, emphasis on quantitative health benefits, and personal connection to the consumer. Meanwhile, the soy health claim case study reveals that health claims in the future should focus on providing useful nutritional education information, which can then be leveraged by marketing strategies.

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*The study was conducted at the University of Illinois, former location of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.