Neal H. Hooker, M.A., Ph.D.

Professor of Food Policy
John Glenn School of Public Affairs
The Ohio State University
Email: hooker.27@osu.edu Discipline: Economics Expertise: Health Economics, Food Policy/Marketing

Investigator Award
The Diet-Health Nexus: Communicating Emerging Evidence
Award Year: 2008 As increasing numbers of Americans try to eat healthily and reduce their risk of chronic disease, they are paying more attention to product ingredients, labeling, advertising, and information from a variety of sources about the health benefits of foods and beverages. They are also spending more on foods that they believe are "heart-healthy" or can reduce their risk for certain cancers. But given the level of scientific uncertainty surrounding the health effects of food, what are consumers getting for their money? Co-PIs William K. Hallman, Ph.D. and Neal H. Hooker, Ph.D. study how information is used in food claims and marketing, as well as how adeptly consumers grasp the information provided. Their project, The Diet-Health Nexus: Communicating Emerging Evidence, examines how information is crafted and conveyed; how older consumers understand and evaluate food claims and dietary advice; and whether the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) regulatory approach has educated consumers about the limits of scientific evidence and the accuracy of health claims. Drs. Hallman and Hooker will produce recommendations on how to better inform consumers. Their project should help shape the FDA's efforts to revise, or perhaps even revamp, its policies for regulating health claims by food and beverage manufacturers and producers.

Background

Neal H. Hooker is a Professor of Food Policy in the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Massachusetts, an M.A. from the University of British Columbia (Canada) and a B.A. (Hons.) from Essex University (U.K.). Dr. Hooker's research explores marketing and management issues within global food supply chains. He is particularly interested in how safety and nutrition attributes are communicated, controlled, and (where appropriate) certified. Dr. Hooker has worked at Texas A&M University, Colorado State University and Ohio State University. He is also a visiting professor at the Food Policy Institute, Rutgers University. Dr. Hooker has published more than 40 journal articles and book chapters on the economics of food quality, product recalls, international marketing of food safety, the demand for functional food, and E-Business. He co-edited a book Interdisciplinary Food Safety Research and special issues of journals on Private Sector Management of Food Safety and Emerging Issues in Food Safety. Dr. Hooker served on a National Academy of Sciences Committee which prepared the Scientific Criteria to Ensure Safe Food report, two USDA NRI panels on Human Nutrition and Obesity and has reviewed for many other public grant programs and academic journals. He is an active member of several organizations including the American Agricultural Economics Association and the American Marketing Association. Current research projects are exploring: the effectiveness of various forms of food safety and nutrition policy; food innovation strategies; adoption of quality management systems such as GAPs; the E-Business practices of food retailers; the marketing of functional foods; organic marketing; and the business implications of food recalls. Outside of the United States, Dr. Hooker has performed research, consulting and training in the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, Israel, Thailand, the Netherlands and Mexico. He has been an investigator on awards totaling more than $3.6 million.