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Journal cover: British Food Journal

British Food Journal

ISSN: 0007-070X

Online from: 1899

Subject Area: Industry and Public Sector Management

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Consumer knowledge about dietary fats: another French paradox?

Document Information:
Title:Consumer knowledge about dietary fats: another French paradox?
Author(s):Laure Saulais, (Centre de Recherche de l'Institut Paul Bocuse, Ecully, France), Maurice Doyon, (Department of Agricultural Economics and Consumer Science, Université Laval Québec, Québec, Canada), Bernard Ruffieux, (Ecole Nationale Superieure de Genie Industriel, Grenoble, France), Harry Kaiser, (Department of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA)
Citation:Laure Saulais, Maurice Doyon, Bernard Ruffieux, Harry Kaiser, (2012) "Consumer knowledge about dietary fats: another French paradox?", British Food Journal, Vol. 114 Iss: 1, pp.108 - 120
Keywords:Canada, Consumer behaviour, Consumer knowledge, Dairy products, Dietary fat, Fats, France, United States of America
Article type:Research paper
DOI:10.1108/00070701211197392 (Permanent URL)
Publisher:Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to compare knowledge about dietary fats in some dairy products and other foods across consumers from France, (French-speaking) Canada and the USA. A relation is explored between the types of information, knowledge levels and obesity predominance.

Design/methodology/approach – A nine-question nutritional test was developed and administered to three samples of consumers, respectively in Grenoble (France), Quebec, Canada and Ithaca, New York. In France, Canada and the USA the number of participants was respectively 100, 107 and 120. Participants were recruited randomly outside groceries stores and the test was administered directly through one-on-one interviews.

Findings – Results indicate a significant gap in knowledge between consumers from the three countries studied. The level and quality of knowledge seems to be correlated with the nature of the informational background: a wider availability of information such as nutrition facts and public health recommendations on fat consumption seems to have a positive effect on the general level of knowledge. However, “technical” knowledge seems to be inversely correlated to the level of obesity.

Research limitations/implications – This work is of an exploratory nature and the sample might not be representative of the countries' population. Further works that link food knowledge and food consumption patterns would be needed.

Practical implications – This study gives weight to the hypothesis that a “science” or nutrient approach to food might not result in appropriate food choices; consumers losing sight of the big picture. To confirm this hypothesis, further work would be needed.

Originality/value – This is, to the authors' knowledge, the first cross-country study that attempts to link the type of knowledge on fat in food and predominance of obesity. This should encourage nutritionist to further investigate this link. It should also concern the dairy industry, given most often consumers' perception of dairy products' fat content is overestimated, especially for fluid milk in France.

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