In 2011, the Food Stress Index (FSI) set a new record

"Eating habits are changing at a pace rushed to meet the social norm of "healthy eating" conveyed throughout the media. This is what we have called the Food Stress Syndrome."

QUEBEC, Jan. 6, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - VARIUM, a consulting firm in social marketing, released today the results of the fifth wave of a survey on changes in eating habits related to risks or benefits of food. This latest survey reveals a revolution in eating habits since 2004.

Five (5) surveys have allowed questioning a total of 1604 adults on their eating habits. The one in 2011 was conducted among 300 adults in the census metropolitan area of Montreal in order to measure their changes in choice of food in relation to 10 risks (such as mad cow disease, trans fats, salt...) and 10 benefits (such as Omega-3, dietary fiber, probiotics...).

"Only between 2007 and 2011, the index increased significantly.", says François Houde, social marketing expert and founder of VARIUM. Overall this is 90.0% of respondents in 2007 and 2011 that have changed their eating habits based on a risk or benefit of food. Note that the Food Stress Index is the sum of decisions not to buy or not to eat some food when it is related to a risk or, conversely, decisions to buy or to eat some food when it is associated with one of the scale's benefits.

In 2011, the FSI average 9.5. In other words, these are 9.5 changes in eating habits, from the 20 statements, being undertaken by respondents in 2011. In 2007, the FSI stood at 8.5. The increase from 2007 to 2011 is significant.

In 2011, the average food stress generated by a risk (FSIR), has rose significantly compared to 2004, from 2.81 to 3.52. Thus in 2011, 83.2% of those surveyed have decided not to buy or not to consume a food because it was linked to at least one dietary risk compared to 77.5% in 2004.

In contrast, 93.2% of respondents from 2011, against 87.0% in 2007, claimed to have purchased or consumed a food to enjoy its benefits. Thus, the average Food Stress Index, generated by a benefit (FSIB), also increased significantly from 5.1, in 2007, to 5.99, in 2011.  

"What we have called the Food Stress Syndrome, is a phenomenon commonly present in society. The frequency of changes in consumer eating habits shows that they comply more and more with a social norm of "healthy eating" spread by the media, according to which eater must avoid risk and seek benefits of food. This finding cannot be neglected by manufacturers, retailers and by heads of agencies involved in prevention in the health sector. Finally, finding the balance between consumer demand and food supply coming from the industry must go through identification and comprehensive analysis of needs and expectations of eater in addition to cooperation among stakeholders." according to François Houde.

The latest survey on food stress was carried out by BIP, on behalf of VARIUM, between the 8th to the 11th of March, 2011.


In business since 1998, formerly known as ISA - Marketing & Management Division, VARIUM is a consulting firm offering expertise in behavioral and lifestyle changes for the purpose of promoting wellness.


For further information:

Summary of the study can be found at; for interviews François Houde, President, VARIUM, (418) 845-3338 or (418) 928-8803

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