The market for targeted health and wellness foods is a dynamic and promising one, driven largely by the growing awareness among scientists, government, practitioners, and consumers that diet plays an instrumental role in a wide range of health conditions, says a new report issued by market research firm Packaged Facts.

Diseases linked to eating habits, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some types of cancer and diabetes, are some of the leading causes of death in the United States. The risk of developing diet-related chronic diseases increases with age, so the graying of the U.S. population is a key factor in this market. Escalating healthcare costs that prompt consumers to seek alternative ways of managing their health also draw attention to these products and spur sales.

The report, called Targeted Health and Wellness Foods and Beverages: The U.S. Market and Global Trends, more packaged foods and beverages are being specially formulated and distinctively marketed to addressing a specific health concern or disease. This category is distinct from, but related to, product categories including functional foods, nutraceuticals and condition-specific nutritional supplements, as well as categories of foods defined by the Food and Drug Administration for special dietary use and medical foods.

According to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, "Two-thirds of U.S. grocery shoppers have purchased a food or beverage in the past year for the purpose of addressing one or more specific health and wellness conditions or concerns, with cholesterol management and digestive health of particular concern."

Survey data show that targeted health and wellness food shoppers are willing to pay more for "better-for-you" products, as well as to shop for these products in a wider range of outlets. Grocery shoppers are also very proactive about conducting research to educate themselves about diet.

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