The spread of lifestyle- and diet-related civilisation diseases is continuously increasing worldwide, thus obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases as well as diabetes entail severe personal, economic, and social burdens on a global scale. Consequently, the role of disease prevention has become of strategic importance and an increasingly wider scale of consumer groups has realised that proper nutrition can beneficially influence their quality of life (SzakÁly et al., 2016; Mullin & Delzenne, 2017). This new trend presents new challenges to the food industry: companies have to develop and market food products which due to their health preservation values are able to prevent the spread of civilization diseases. Based on the internationally accepted definition, foods can be regarded as functional if they can be satisfactorily demonstrated to affect beneficially one or more target functions in the body, beyond adequate nutritional effects, in a way relevant to an improved state of health and well-being and/or reduction of risk of disease (Ashwell, 2002). Functional foods are divided by the European Commission into the following groups: (I) natural food such as fruit or grain, which may or may not be modified by plant breeding or other technologies; (II) food to which a component was added; (III) food from which a component was removed or reduced; (IV) food in which one or more components were modified, replaced, or enhanced to improve its health properties (European Commission, 2010). Since the development of new functional components and the solution of technological challenges are highly costlyand risky business, the analysis of consumer behaviour influencing the purchase of products is of prime importance for the producers to avoid the failure of the investments. Therefore, companies have to monitor the changes in consumer attitudes towards functional foods and ensure that their newly developed products will meet consumer expectations. Importantly, attitudes fundamentally determine the perception, understanding, acceptance, or rejection of the information conveyed related to functional foods (UrÁla & LahteenmÁki, 2003). Urala and LÁhteenmÁki (2007) divided individual attitudes towards functional foods into four dimensions: (1) Perceived reward, (2) Need for functional foods, (3) Trust in benefits, and (4) Safety. Previous studies highlighted that health knowledge and the level of health-awareness of consumers also influence the attitudes towards functional foods. Consumers who are more worried about their health and are aware of a healthy lifestyle show more willingness to consume functional food than those less worried about their health (Naylor et al., 2009; Chen, 2011). Since lifestyles fundamentally influence attitudes, the model of Downes (2008), which defines the barriers and the motivators of a healthy lifestyle, is of particular importance. Beside personal motivators (increased energy, spiritual beliefs, body weight control, desired outcome), environmental motivators (roles models, social support, counselling service, information on health) were defined. Similarly, two types of barriers were specified: personal (lack of motivation and time) and environmental ones (lack of social support, safety concerns, lack of resources). The latest complex approach is built on the integration of the models of Downes (2008) and Urala and LÁhteenmÁki (2007) to examine attitudes and willingness towards functional foods in relation to motivators and barriers of health behaviour (Küster-Boluda & Vidal-Capilla, 2017).
In line with global trends, the market share of functional foods face explosive growth in East-Central Europe, too, and research on habits, expectations, and attitudes of targeted consumer groups is of prime importance for developing an appropriate regional marketing strategy. The main objective of our study was to adapt this complex attitude and health motivational model to Hungarian consumers by conducting focus group surveys, which can provide the basis for the better understanding of motivators and barriers of health behaviour and for exploring consumer attitudes towards functional foods.
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