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YOUNG CONSUMER'S DEMAND FOR NATURAL SWEETENERS: DEVELOPING MEASURES FOR GOOD HEALTH AND INDUSTRY IN WYOMING
Health conscious consumers are increasingly concerned about the caloric content and glycemic index of sweeteners added to food. Currently, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar in processed foods per day. Young people typically consume higher amounts of sweeteners via candy, sports drinks, and soda . Recently, the American Heart Association issued a statement recommending no more than six teaspoons for women and nine teaspoons for men of added sugar in processed foods per day . Of particular concern is the glycemic index of sweeteners-or how quickly sweeteners raise one's blood sugar level after consumption. While much of recent concern about added sugar focuses on high fructose corn syrup, Wyoming's honey and beet sugar industries are likely to be affected by these new recommendations and consumer sentiment. Our rationale is that understanding how glycemic index and caloric content information affects food product valuation for consumers with different health concerns, risk preferences, and social relationships will provide guidance for future sugar-related health policy as well as market information for Wyoming honey and beet sugar industries. This project builds upon multidisciplinary research by the principal investigators to understand household economic behavior and nutrition-related health outcomes. This knowledge discovery (research) and dissemination (outreach) project offers return to nearly all of the Wyoming Agricultural Experiment Station competitive grant program's objectives. First, the natural sweetener marketing knowledge generated through our research will be employable by Wyoming sugar beet and honey industry participants. The participants include farm and ranch operations and their families and processing businesses. The industries affect local communities where honey and sugar beets are produced and processed too. As we increase our understanding of natural sweetener demand, local businesses and government may understand how their future economic opportunities will be affected by consumer demand dynamics and sweetener policies. Second, more precise measurements of consumer demand for natural sweetener products, incorporating consumer risk preferences, health awareness and conditions, and marital status; will lead to more accurate state-level and national nutritional policy. We will have more information about the consumer welfare effects of policy options. Finally, Wyoming honey bee producers play an important role in sustaining the natural ecosystems of the state. They may use information from our study to assess market needs for their present and future economic viability.
USDA CRIS Project Information Link: 0221027