Last update : 06 June 2006

Given the priority for populace dietary readjust there is a require for a higher understanding that the determinants that impact food choice. This evaluation examines the major influences top top food choice with a emphasis on those that are amenable to adjust and discusses some successful interventions.

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1. Significant determinants of food choice

The crucial driver because that eating is of course hunger however what we pick to eat is not identified solely through physiological or nutritional needs. Several of the other factors that affect food choice include:

Biological components such as hunger, appetite, and tasteEconomic determinants such as cost, income, availabilityPhysical factors such as access, education, an abilities (e.g. Cooking) and also timeSocial components such together culture, family, peers and also meal patternsPsychological factors such as mood, stress and also guiltAttitudes, beliefs and also knowledge about food

The complexity of food an option is apparent from the list above, which is in itself no exhaustive. Food choice factors likewise vary follow to life stage and the power of one factor will differ from one separation, personal, instance or group of world to the next. Thus, one type of intervention to change food selection behaviour will not fit all population groups. Rather, interventions need to be geared towards different groups of the population with factor to consider to the countless factors influencing their decisions on food choice.

1.1 organic determinants that food choice

Hunger and also satiety

Our physiological needs provide the basic determinants of food choice. Humans need energy and nutrients in order come survive and also will respond come the feel of hunger and satiety (satisfaction that appetite, state of no hunger between two eating occasions). The main nervous mechanism is connected in managing the balance in between hunger, appetite stimulation and food intake.

The macro-nutrients i.e. Carbohydrates, proteins and fats create satiety signal of varying strength. The balance the evidence suggests that fat has actually the lowest satiating power, carbohydrates have actually an intermediate effect and also protein has actually been discovered to it is in the many satiating50.

The energy thickness of diets has actually been shown to exert potent impacts on satiety; short energy thickness diets generate better satiety than high energy thickness diets. The high energy thickness of high-fat and/or high-sugar foodstuffs can likewise lead come ‘passive overconsumption’, wherein excess energy is ingested unintentionally and without the consumption of added bulk.

An crucial satiety signal may be the volume that food or part size consumed. Many civilization are unaware of what constitutes appropriate part sizes and also thus inadvertently consume excess energy.


Palatability is proportional to the pleasure who experiences as soon as eating a details food. It is dependency on the sensory properties of the food such together taste, smell, texture and appearance. Sweet and high-fat foodstuffs have an undeniable sensory appeal. The is no surprising then that food is not specifically regarded together a resource of nourishment but is often consumed because that the pleasure worth it imparts.

The influence of palatability on appetite and food intake in humans has actually been investigated in number of studies. There is boost in food intake together palatability increases, but the effect of palatability top top appetite in the period following usage is unclear. Enhancing food range can additionally increase food and energy intake and in the brief term change energy balance45. However, impacts on long-term energy regulation room unknown.

Sensory aspects

‘Taste’ is repeatedly reported together a major influence on food behaviour. In reality ‘taste’ is the amount of every sensory stimulation the is produced by the gulp down of a food. This contains not just taste per se but likewise smell, appearance and texture the food. These sensory facets are assumed to influence, in particular, spontaneous food choice.

From very early age, taste and also familiarity influence behaviour in the direction of food. A liking for sweetness and a dislike because that bitterness are taken into consideration innate human traits, present from birth49. Taste preferences and also food aversions build through experiences and also are affected by our attitudes, beliefs and also expectations9.

1.2 Economic and also physical determinants of food choice

Cost and also accessibility

There is no doubt that the price of food is a major determinant that food choice. Whether expense is prohibitive depends basically on a person's income and also socio-economic status. Low-income groups have a greater tendency to consume unbalanced diets and in certain have low intakes the fruit and also vegetables14. However, access to more money go not instantly equate come a better quality diet yet the variety of foods items from i beg your pardon one can choose should increase.

Accessibility come shops is another important physical factor influencing food choice, which is dependency on resources such as transport and also geographical location. Healthy and balanced food often tends to be much more expensive when available within towns and cities compared to supermarkets on the outskirts19. However, improving access alone does not rise purchase of added fruit and also vegetables, which are still pertained to as prohibitively expensive18.

Education and also Knowledge

Studies indicate that the level of education and learning can influence dietary behaviour during adulthood30. In contrast, nutrition knowledge and good dietary actions are not strongly correlated. This is due to the fact that knowledge about health walk not lead to direct action when people are unsure how to use their knowledge. Furthermore, details disseminated on nutrition originates from a variety of sources and is perceived as conflicting or is mistrusted, i m sorry discourages an ideas to change15. Thus, it is vital to convey accurate and consistent message through assorted media, on food packages and of course via wellness professionals.

1.3 Social factors of food choice

Influence of social class

What people eat is formed and constrained by scenarios that are basically social and cultural. Populace studies present there space clear distinctions in social classes through regard come food and also nutrient intakes. Negative diets can an outcome in under- (micronutrients deficiency) and over-nutrition (energy over consumption resulting in overweight and also obesity); problems that confront different sectors the society, requiring various levels the expertise and also methods of intervention.

Cultural influences

Cultural influences lead come the difference in the habitual usage of specific foods and also in heritages of preparation, and in particular cases have the right to lead to restrictions such as exclusion of meat and milk native the diet. Cultural influences are but amenable come change: when relocating to a brand-new country individuals frequently adopt specific food habits of the local culture.

Social context

Social influences on food intake describe the impact that one or an ext persons have on the eat behaviour the others, either straight (buying food) or indirect (learn from peer's behaviour), either conscious (transfer the beliefs) or subconscious. Also when eat alone, food selection is influenced by social factors due to the fact that attitudes and habits construct through the interaction with others. However, quantifying the social impacts on food entry is challenging because the impacts that world have top top the eating behaviour the others room not minimal to one type and civilization are no necessarily aware of the social influences that are exerted on your eating behaviour23.

Social support can have a valuable effect on food choices and also healthful dietary change16. Social assistance from in ~ the household and from co-workers was positively associated with enhancements in fruit and vegetable consumption46and with the preparative stage of enhancing eating habits, respectively47. Society support might enhance health and wellness promotion through cultivating a feeling of group belonging and also helping world to be more competent and also self-efficacious8.

The family is extensively recognised together being far-reaching in food decisions. Research mirrors the shaping of food options taking place in the home. Due to the fact that family and friends have the right to be a resource of encouragement in making and sustaining diet change, adopting dietary methods which space acceptable come them may advantage the separation, personal, instance whilst also having an impact on the eating habits of others3.

Social setting

Although the majority of food is eaten in the home, boosting proportion is eaten outside the home, e.g. In schools, in ~ work and also in restaurants. The to meet in which food is eaten can influence food choice, an especially in terms of what foods are on offer. The accessibility of healthy food in ~ home and also 'away native home' rises the intake of together foods. However, access to healthy food choices is limited in many work/school environments. This is particularly true because that those with irregular hrs or with certain requirements, e.g. Vegetarian22. Through the majority of adult women and men in employment, the influence of work-related on health and wellness behaviours such together food selections is crucial area of investigation16.

1.4 enjoy the meal patterns

People have countless different eat occasions daily, the motivations because that which will certainly differ indigenous one chance to the next. Most studies inspection the components that influence habitual food selection but it might be beneficial to investigate what influences food an option at different eating occasions.

The impacts of snacking on health have actually been questioned widely. Proof shows the snacking have the right to have results on energy and nutrient intakes however not necessarily on human body mass index28. However, individuals with regular weight or overweightmay differ in their coping strategies when snack foodstuffs are freely obtainable and also in their compensatory instrument at subsequent meals. Moreover, snack composition might be an essential aspect in the ability of people to readjust intake to meet energy needs.

Helping young adults to pick healthy snack selections poses a difficulty to numerous health professionals. In the home, rather than forbidding unhealthy snacks, a much more positive approach may be the development of healthy and balanced snack alternatives over time. Moreover, healthy food choices outside the home likewise need to it is in made much more readily available.

1.5 mental factors


Psychological tension is a common feature of contemporary life and can modify behaviours that affect health, such together physical activity, smoking or food choice.

The influence of stress on food choice is complicated not least due to the fact that of the various varieties of anxiety one deserve to experience. The result of stress on food intake counts on the individual, the stressor and also the circumstances. In general, some human being eat more and part eat less than normal when experiencing stress39.

The proposed instrument for tension induced alters in eating and food choice are motivational distinctions (reduced concern about weight control), physiological (reduced appetite brought about by the processes linked with stress) and also practical changes in eating opportunities, food ease of access and enjoy the meal preparation.

Studies additionally suggest that if work stress is prolonged or frequent, climate adverse dietary changes could result, raising the opportunity of weight gain and consequently cardiovascular risk52.


Hippocrates to be the first to indicate the healing strength of food, however, it to be not until the middle ages that food was considered a tool to change temperament and also mood. This day it is recognised the food influences our mood and also that mood has a strong influence over our choice of food.

Interestingly, it shows up that the influence of food on mood is connected in part to mindsets towards certain foods. The ambivalent relationship with food – wanting to enjoy it but mindful of weight gain is a struggle competent by many. Dieters, civilization with high restraint and also some females report feeling guilty since of no eating what castle think lock should17. Moreover, attempts come restrict entry of details foods can increase the desire for these particular foods, bring about what are defined as food cravings.

Women an ext commonly report food cravings than carry out men. Depressed mood shows up to influence the severity of these cravings. Reports of food cravings are also an ext common in the premenstrual phase, a time when total food intake increases and a parallel readjust in basal metabolic rate occurs21.

Thus, mood and stress have the right to influence food an option behaviour and possibly short and long ax responses to dietary intervention.

2. Eating disorders

Eating behaviour, unlike many other organic functions, is often subject to sophisticated cognitive control. Among the most widely practised forms of cognitive manage over food entry is dieting.

Many people express a desire to shed weight or boost their human body shape and also thus connect in ideologies to attain their right body massive index. However, difficulties can arise once dieting and/or exercise space taken come extremes. The aetiology of eating disorders is generally a combination of factors including biological, psychological, familial and socio-cultural. The occurrence of eating obstacle is often associated with a distorted self-image, short self-esteem, non-specific anxiety, obsession, stress and unhappiness36.

Treatment of an eating disorder typically requires weight stabilisation and one-to-one psychotherapy. Prevention is more difficult to define yet suggestions include avoidance of son abuse; avoidance the magnifying diet and health issues; mirroring affection there is no over-controlling; not setting impossible standards; rewarding small achievements in the present; encouraging independence and sociability36.

3. Consumer attitudes, beliefs, knowledge and optimistic bias

Consumer attitudes and also beliefs

In both the locations of food safety and also nutrition, our expertise of consumers’ attitudes are poorly researched26. A far better understanding of exactly how the public perceive their diets would aid in the design and implementation of healthy and balanced eating initiatives.

The Pan-European survey of Consumer perspectives to Food, Nutrition and also Health discovered that the top five influences ~ above food choice in 15 europe member states are ‘quality/freshness’ (74%), ‘price’ (43%), ‘taste’ (38%), ‘trying come eat healthy’ (32%) and also ‘what my family wants come eat’ (29%). These are typical figures obtained by group 15 european member states results, i m sorry differed substantially from nation to country. In the USA the adhering to order of determinants affecting food options has to be reported: taste, cost, nutrition, convenience and weight concerns27.

In the Pan-European study, females, larger subjects, and more educated subjects taken into consideration ‘health aspects’ come be specifically important. Males much more frequently selected 'taste' and also 'habit' together main components of your food choice. ‘Price’ appeared to be most vital in unemployed and also retired subjects. Interventions target at these groups should think about their perceived factors of food choice.

Attitudes and also beliefs can and do change; our mindset to diet fat has adjusted in the critical 50 years with a equivalent decrease in the absolute amount of fat eaten and a readjust in the proportion of saturated to unsaturated fat.

Optimistic bias

There is a short level of regarded need among European populations to alter their eating behavior for wellness reasons, 71% surveyed believing the their diet are currently adequately healthy31. This high level that satisfaction with existing diets has been reported in Australian53, American10 and English subjects37.

The lack of must make dietary changes, indicate a high level of positive bias, which is a phenomenon wherein people believe that they are at less risk native a hazard compared to others. This false positive outlook is also reflected in studies showing how world underestimate your likelihood of having a high fat diet loved one to others25and exactly how some consumers v low fruit and also vegetable join regard themselves together ‘high consumers’11.

If people believe that your diets are already healthy it may be unreasonable to expect them to alter their diets, or to consider nutrition/healthy eating together a highly crucial factor when selecting their food. Although this consumers have a higher probability of having actually a healthier diet 보다 those that recognise their diet is in require of improvement, they space still far brief of the generally embraced public health nutrition goals26. The is also unlikely that these teams will be motivated further by diet recommendations. Hence, future interventions might need to rise awareness among the general populace that their own diet is not wholly sufficient in state of, for instance fat, or fruit and vegetable consumption13. Because that those who think their diet to be healthy and balanced it has been argued that if your beliefs about outcomes that dietary change can it is in altered, their attitudes may become more favourable and they thus may be much more likely to change their diets40. Thus, a perceived should undertake readjust is a an essential requirement for initiating diet change31.

4. Barriers to dietary and lifestyle change

Focus ~ above cost

Household income and also the expense of food is crucial factor influencing food choice, particularly for low-income consumers. The potential because that food wastage leads to a reluctance to shot ‘new’ foods items for fear the family members will disapprove them. In addition, a lack of knowledge and also the lose of cooking an abilities can likewise inhibit buying and also preparing meals from simple ingredients.

Education on exactly how to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in an affordable method such the no more expense, in money or effort, is incurred has actually been proposed as a solution18. Efforts of governments, public health authorities, producers and also retailers to encourage fruit and vegetable dishes as value for money could additionally make a optimistic contribution to diet change12.

Time constraints

Lack the time is generally mentioned for not adhering to nutritional advice, an especially by the young and well educated33. Civilization living alone or cooking for one seek out convenience foodstuffs rather than food preparation from basic ingredients. This need has been met through a transition in the fruit and also vegetables market from loosened to prepacked, prepared and also ready-to-cook products. These commodities are much more expensive than loose products yet people room willing to pay the extra cost since of the convenience lock bring. Occurring a greater range of tasty, convenient foodstuffs with good nutritional profiles offers a path to enhancing the diet high quality of these groups.

5. Models for changing behaviour

Health behavioural Models

Understanding how world make decisions about their wellness can help in planning health promotion strategies. This is where the affect of society psychology and also its associated theory-based models beat a role. These models aid to explain human behaviour and in certain to know how people make decisions about their health. Lock have additionally been supplied to suspect the likelihood that dietary behaviour adjust will occur. This section focuses on a select few.

The Health id Model (HBM) and the Protection an ideas Theory

The HBM was initially proposed through Rosenstock43, to be modified by Becker7and has actually been supplied to guess protective health and wellness behaviour, such as screening, inoculation uptake and also compliance with clinical advice. The model argues that civilization considering changing their behaviour should feel personally intimidated by a disease/illness and that castle then interact in a cost-benefit analysis. This model also suggests that world need some type of cue come take activity to change behaviour or do a health-related decision.

The theory of Reasoned action (TRA) and also the theory of planned Behaviour (TPB)

The theory of Reasoned Action4 or its expansion in the kind of The concept of planned Behaviour5 have actually been offered to assist explain and to predict the intentionally of a details behaviour. This models are based on the theory that the finest predictor of the plot is behavioral intention. The model proposes the an individual’s behavioural intention is jointly derived type three components;

attitudes,perception of social press to carry out the behaviour andperceived regulate over the behaviour.

In dietary research studies TPB/TRA allows a comparison of the toughness of influences upon individuals and between sample groups and also can be provided to construct an knowledge of the components of food choice. The TRA has actually been effective in explaining behaviours such together fat, salt and milk intake. The TPB version was also used to help explain attitudes and beliefs about starchy foodstuffs in the UK51.

Stage group for health-related behaviour

The step of change model occurred by Prochaska42 and co-workers says that health and wellness related behaviour adjust occurs through five separate stages. These are pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. The version assumes that if different components influence transitions at different stages, then individuals should respond best to interventions tailored to enhance their phase of change.

The step of change model, in contrast to the various other models discussed, has actually proven to be much more popular for use in transforming behaviour fairly than in explaining present behaviour. This is probably since the design offers valuable intervention indict that have the right to be teach to practitioners. In addition, big random samples can be tested through messages tailored to the person’s phase of readiness to change.

It has been argued that a stage model may be an ext appropriate because that simpler an ext discrete behaviours such together eating five servings the fruit and vegetables every day, or drinking low-fat milk (food-based goals) 보다 for complex dietary changes such as low-fat eating (nutrient-based goal)29.

Presently, no one theory or model sufficiently explains and also predicts the full variety of food-choice behaviours38. Models in basic should be perceived as a method to understanding the determinants influencing individual decisions and also behaviour. In spite of the number of models of behaviour change, they have been employed in relatively few nutrition interventions; the stages of readjust model gift the many popular. However, the finest test of this model, even if it is stage-matched dietary interventions outperform standardised approaches, has actually yet to be performed.

6. Changing food behaviour: effective interventions

Dietary change is not easy because it calls for alterations in actions that have actually been gathered over a life-time. Various settings such together schools, workplaces, supermarkets, main care and community based studies have actually been used in order to recognize what functions for specific groups the people. Although results from together trials are daunting to extrapolate to other settings or the general public, together targeted interventions have been fairly successful, illustrating that different approaches are forced for various groups of human being or different facets of the diet.

Interventions in supermarket settings are famous given this is where the majority of the people buy many of their food. Screening, shop tours and point-of-purchase interventions are ways in which information deserve to be provided. Such interventions are successful at increasing awareness and nutrition knowledge yet their efficiency of any type of real and also long-term behaviour change is unclear at present.

Schools are one more obvious intervention setup because they have the right to reach the students, your parents and the college staff. Fruit and also vegetable input in youngsters has been boosted through the use of tuck shops, multimedia and the internet and also when youngsters get affiliated in growing, preparing and also cooking the food they eat1,6,35. Moreover, covert changes to dishes to reduced fat, sodium and energy content enhanced the nutritional profile of college dinners without shedding student authorized in the school lunch programme44.

Workplace interventions can likewise reach huge numbers the people and can target those at risk. Increasing accessibility and very nice one of fruit and also vegetables confirmed successful in worksite canteens34and price to reduce for healthy snacks in vending machines increased sales24. Thus, the combination of nutrition education with alters in the workplace are an ext likely come succeed an especially if interactive activities are employed and if such tasks are sustained for lengthy periods41.

Tackling number of dietary components simultaneously such as reducing dietary fat and increasing fruit and also vegetables, has actually proved effective in the primary care setting48. Behavioural counselling in conjunction v nutrition counselling seems most reliable in such settings although the price implications of cultivate primary treatment professionals in action counselling space unclear at this time. Educational and also behavioural methods have likewise been provided in public health/ community settings, which have actually been presented to rise fruit and also vegetable intake2,3,12.

7. Conclusion

There are many influences top top food choice which administer a whole collection of means to intervene into and improve people's food choices. There are additionally a number of barriers to dietary and also lifestyle change, i beg your pardon vary relying on life stages and the individual or group of civilization in question.

It is a major challenge both to health and wellness professionals and to the general public themselves to effect dietary change. Various strategies are required to trigger a readjust in action in teams with different priorities. Projects that incorporate tailored advice that encompass practical solutions as well as environmental readjust are likely to success in facilitating dietary change.

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Reviewed through Dr France Bellisle, INRA, France


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