What's Wrong with Functional Foods?

Journal of Philosophical Research 32 (Supplement):177-187 (2007)
A “functional food” is a food-based product that provides a demonstrable physiological benefit beyond its dietary or nutritional value. This class of foods for specific health uses are designed to assist in the prevention or treatment of disease, or to enhance and improve human capacities. They include products like vitamin-fortified grains, energy bars, low-fat or low-sodium foods, and sports drinks. Three sets of concerns about functional foods deserve attention. 1) Their health benefits are greatly exaggerated and, in many cases, non-existent; practical questions remain about their efficacy. 2) Their medicinal properties blur the boundaries between food and drugs; public health questions remain about their appropriate use, distribution, and regulation. 3) Their proliferation is fueled by the food industry, not by the medical profession; political questions remain about the role of market forces that too often benefit producers more than consumers
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