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Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;101(4):768-74. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.096776. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

Factors affecting food choices of older adults from high and low socioeconomic groups: a discrete choice experiment.

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From the Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Centre, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.



Healthiness, price, and convenience are typically indicated as important motives for food choices; however, it is largely unknown to what extent older adults from high and low socioeconomic groups differ in these underlying motives. A discrete choice experiment (DCE) is an innovative way to elicit implicit motives for food choices.


The aim was to investigate differences in food motives between socioeconomic groups by means of a DCE.


A DCE was carried out during a face-to-face interview among older adults as part of the Health and Living Conditions in Eindhoven and surrounding cities (GLOBE) cohort study, The Netherlands. Participants (n = 399; mean age: 63.3 y) were offered a series of choice sets about a usual dinner at home and were asked to choose in each choice set between 2 meals and an opt-out choice, with different combinations of attribute levels. We included 5 meal attributes (taste, healthiness, preparation time, travel time to shops, and price) and 3 or 4 levels for each attribute. Data were analyzed by multinomial logit models.


Healthiness, taste, price, and travel time to the grocery store proved to significantly influence older adults' meal decisions; preparation time was not significant. Healthiness was the most important attribute for all of the participants. More highly educated participants rated a healthy and less expensive meal to be more important than did less educated participants. Those with a high income rated a meal that was healthy and very tasteful to be more important than did those with a lower income.


Healthiness, taste, price, and travel time to grocery shops influenced older adults' meal decisions. Higher socioeconomic groups valued health more than did lower socioeconomic groups. DCEs represent a promising method to gain insight into the relative importance of motives for food choices. This trial was registered at as ISRCTN60293770.


DCE; food; food attributes; motives; older adults; socioeconomic position

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