New U of G-Made Toolkit Helps Make Sense of Functional Foods

January 14, 2013 - News Release

Helping older adults understand the benefits and labelling of functional foods is the purpose of a new toolkit developed by University of Guelph researchers.

Researchers led by Prof. Alison Duncan, Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences, developed the Functional Foods for Healthy Aging Toolkit, which will become publicly available after a free webinar Jan. 16 at 1 p.m.

Although the toolkit is designed for health professionals, an electronic version will be available to the public on Agri-food for Healthy Aging’s website. Professionals interested in Wednesday's event should register in advance.

“Functional foods have a lot of potential as a strategy to help optimize health,” said Duncan, “but there is so much information on the labels of these products that consumers may not have the tools to fully understand them. This toolkit will help, and it will be especially beneficial to older adults who have a growing concern about their health and interest in how food can help them stay healthier longer.”

The toolkit provides definitions of functional foods, regulatory information, detailed explanations and case studies of labels found on common products. The kit also provides resource sheets for clients and results of a study funded by the Canadian Foundation for Dietetic Research (CFDR) on functional food consumption by older adults.

Duncan says functional foods such as probiotic yogourt, omega-3 eggs and high-fibre cereals contain “bioactive ingredients” shown to improve health.

With many baby boomers reaching retirement age and facing higher disease risk, older adults are becoming the primary clients for dietitians and health professionals. Duncan hopes this toolkit will help them make sense of diverse information about functional foods.

She worked on the toolkit with former graduate students Hilary Dunn, Laura Stratton and Meagan Vella, and undergraduate students Sarah Dainty and Brittney Kay.

This project was funded by the Nutrition Research in Focus program of CFDR and the Agri-Food and Rural Link program, a partnership between the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs and the University of Guelph.

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs:
Lori Bona Hunt, 519 824-4120, Ext. 53338 or
Kevin Gonsalves, Ext. 56982 or

University of Guelph
50 Stone Road East
Guelph, Ontario, N1G 2W1