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Forum Nutr. 2005;(57):36-43.

Influences on food choice and dietary behavior.

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Food, Consumer Behaviour and Health Research Centre, Department of Psychology, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey, UK.


There are a number of possible reasons for the lack of effectiveness of attempts at changing dietary behaviors. While lack of information and knowledge about foods and nutrient contents might play a part, motivation to change is likely to be much more important. Food choice, like any complex human behavior, is influenced by many interrelating factors, including various physiological, social and cultural factors, and these need to be taken into account when considering dietary interventions. In many cases people lack motivation to change. This can be related to optimistic bias, where people underestimate the risk to themselves relative to others from a variety of hazards. People feel less at risk personally for many dietary risks and this is related both to the control they feel they have over dietary behaviors and also to their considering themselves to have better diets than the average. The 'stages of change' model is a possible means for trying to address these motivational issues. While this model has been applied to various forms of behavior such as smoking, there are a number of problems transferring such a model from smoking to dietary behaviors, including the lack of clear cut specific behaviors and behavior change targets in the dietary field.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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