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South African consumers' opinion of the potential health benefits of soy and soy products as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) / Anel Van Wyk de Vries

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dc.contributor.author Van Wyk de Vries, Anel
dc.date.accessioned 2009-02-04T09:05:34Z
dc.date.available 2009-02-04T09:05:34Z
dc.date.issued 2003
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10394/338
dc.description Thesis (M. Consumer Science)--North-West University, Potchefstroom Campus, 2004.
dc.description.abstract There is an increasing awareness in the food industry about the role that proper nutrition plays in maintaining health and preventing disease. Women especially have always been interested in nutrition and its impact on their well-being. This awareness has placed more pressure on the food industry to provide a greater variety of nutritious and wholesome products which has led to the development of a new field in the food industry, called functional foods. These are food products that apart from the micro- and macronutrients that it already provides have additional important physiologically active functions that enhance health. These active components, called phytochemicals (from plant sources) and zoochemicals (from animal sources) have changed the role of diet in health. Functional foods can, by nature or design, bridge the traditional gap between food and medicine and thereby provide consumers with the opportunity to become involved in their own health care. One of these functional foods that have been receiving increased attention and research is soy. Apart from other health benefits of soy, such as cholesterol reduction and bone strengthening, scientific evidence has shown that soy can be used as an alternative for hormone replacement therapy (HRT). The increased interest in the latter can be ascribed to the changed attitude of women, as well as evidence of the side effects of conventional hormone replacement therapies. Consumer research in the nutraceutical area is, however, still in its infancy stage. Objective: The main objective of this study was thus to assess South African consumers' opinion of the potential health benefits of soy and soy products as an alternative for HRT. To attain this main objective, the following specific objectives were stated: To determine, by means of a consumer questionnaire, the percentage of South African consumers who are aware of soy. To determine, by means of an attitude scale, the attitudinal disposition of South African consumers towards the potential health benefits of soy and soy products as an alternative for HRT. To determine South African consumers' opinions regarding the menopausal related health benefits of soy. To determine whether there is a relation between respondents who Eat/drink soy and their opinion of the potential health benefits of soy. To determine whether there is a relation between respondents who never use soy and their opinion of the bone strengthening benefit of soy. To determine whether there is a relation between respondents' opinion of the health benefits of soy and their opinions of soy as an alternative for HRT and reliever of menopausal symptoms, respectively. Methods: In this study, consumers' opinion regarding the health benefits of soy was evaluated using a questionnaire. Respondents were randomly selected from nine metropolitan, as well as rural areas in South Africa, representing the four main race groups, namely whites, blacks, coloureds and Indians. The total sample size of the metropolitan and rural subjects was 3001. A sub-dataset was created which included female respondents that have heard of soy before and were premenopausal (35-44 years) and post-menopausal (50-59 years) of age. Thus, the total number of respondents used for further statistical analyses was 825. The respondents expressed their opinions of the health benefits of soy on a five-point hedonic (Likert) scale which was adapted to a three-point scale for easier interpretation of the tables. Results: 1. Of the 3 001 respondents, 2 437 (80%) were aware of soy. 2. A mean attitudinal disposition score of 2.47 on a three-point scale indicated a neutral to positive attitudinal disposition of the South African consumer population towards the potential health benefits of soy and soy products as alternative for HRT. No practically significant differences were found between the mean values of each statement, which indicated that no specifically strong opinions were expressed between different races or between different age groups. 3. Of all the consumers surveyed and those who did express a specific opinion, 72% agreed that soy has many health benefits compared to only 7% who disagreed. Although 34% of South Africans expressed a positive opinion when asked if soy can be used as alternative for HRT, the majority (46%) of the population had a neutral opinion. Forty-two percent of the consumers who held an opinion regarding soy as reliever of menopausal symptoms were positive, 35% had a neutral opinion and 23% of South Africans did not agree that soy can relieve menopausal symptoms. 4. A relation, although not of practical significance, was found between respondents who eat/drink soy and their opinion of the health benefits of soy. Of the respondents who indicated that they eat/drink soy, the majority agreed that soy has many health benefits. The respondents who disagreed when asked if they eat/drink soy, still expressed an overall positive opinion when asked whether soy has many health benefits. 5. A relation, although not of practical significance, was found between respondents who never use soy and their opinion of the bone strengthening benefit of soy. Of those who indicated that they use soy, the majority agreed that soy has a bone strengthening benefit. On the contrary, only 43% of those who agreed that they never use soy were positive about the bone strengthening benefit of soy, whereas 37% held a neutral opinion and 20% expressed a negative opinion. 6. The relation between respondents' opinion of the overall health benefits of soy and their opinion of soy as alternative for HRT and reliever of menopausal symptoms was of practical significance. Of the respondents who did not agree that soy has many health benefits, the majority expressed a negative opinion of soy as an alternative for HRT. Of those who agreed that soy has many health benefits, 45% expressed a neutral opinion and 44% a positive opinion of soy as alternative for HRT. Almost half (47%) of the respondents who agreed that soy does have many health benefits, expressed a neutral opinion when asked if soy can relieve menopausal symptoms, whereas only 30% had a positive opinion in this regard. The majority (86%) of the respondents who disagreed that soy has many health benefits, also expressed a negative opinion of soy as reliever for menopausal symptoms Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that 80% of the South African consumer population are aware of soy and that South African consumers have a neutral to positive attitudinal disposition towards the potential health benefits of soy. Respondents did not express a particularly strong opinion regarding several health benefits of soy. It may be hypothesized that they are not informed well enough on the health benefits of soy as to take a stand and to form a definite opinion. Neither different race groups, nor pre- or post-menopausal women differ significantly in the frequency of their opinions, indicating that in this study, race and age did not have a practical significant influence on opinion of the health benefits of soy. Of all those surveyed and who did express a specific opinion, 72% agreed that soy has many health benefits, which is almost the same percentage (74%) as American consumers who perceive soy products as healthy as according to the United Soybean Board (USB) National Report (2003-2004:4). A survey by Adams (2001:433) reported that 71% of American consumers believed that plant-derived HRT have fewer risks and can thus be used as a safe alterative for conventional HRT. According to the results of the present study only 34% of South African consumers expressed a positive opinion when asked if soy can be used as an alternative for HRT. Insufficient evidence on the safety and efficacy of the potential health benefits of soy, as well as a lack of consumer education in South Africa, could be the reason for this uncertainty among XIV South African consumers. While only 26% of American consumers are aware that soy might relieve menopausal symptoms (USB National Report, 2003- 2004:4), results of the current study found that 42% of South Africans were of opinion that soy can relieve menopausal symptoms. A relation, although not of practical significance, was found between respondents who eat/drink soy and their opinion of the health benefits of soy. This can be an indication that whether or not the South African consumer population consume soy doesn't have an influence on their opinion of soy's health benefits in practice. The relation found between respondents who never use soy and their opinion of the bone strengthening benefit of soy were not of practical significance. This can be an indication that whether or not South Africans use soy does not influence their opinion of the bone strengthening benefit of soy in practice. Furthermore, a practically significant relation was found between respondents' opinion of the overall health benefits of soy and their opinion of soy as alternative for HRT and reliever of menopausal symptoms, respectively. Interestingly, respondents who expressed a positive opinion regarding the health benefits of soy did not have a convincingly positive opinion of soy as alternative for HRT and as reliever of menopausal symptoms. They expressed a more neutral opinion. As expected, consumers that were not of opinion that soy has certain health benefits, also disagreed when asked if soy can be used as an alternative for HRT or as reliever of menopausal symptoms. Although the causes for the respondents' opinion or uncertainty were not determined in this study, it can be hypothesised that it may be due to lack of standardisation of evidence on the safety and efficacy of alternative hormone replacement therapies. Further studies are still needed to determine the contributing factors which influence consumers' opinion or lack of opinion on soy. If consumers are not educated about the benefits and disadvantages of soy as alternative for HRT, they cannot make intelligent decisions and choices as to whether or not to use soy as alternative for HRT.
dc.publisher North-West University
dc.subject Soy en
dc.subject Functional food en
dc.subject Hormone replacement therapy en
dc.subject Menopausal symptoms en
dc.subject Opinion en
dc.title South African consumers' opinion of the potential health benefits of soy and soy products as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) / Anel Van Wyk de Vries en
dc.type Thesis en
dc.description.thesistype Masters


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