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Appetite. 2019 Aug 1;139:19-25. doi: 10.1016/j.appet.2019.04.003. Epub 2019 Apr 9.

Assessment of the influence of food attributes on meal choice selection by socioeconomic status and race/ethnicity among women living in Chicago, USA: A discrete choice experiment.

Author information

1
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: k-kershaw@northwestern.edu.
2
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Applied Health Sciences, Department of Kinesiology and Nutrition, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: klikusz2@uic.edu.
3
University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, Physiology Graduate Training Program, Madison, WI, USA. Electronic address: lschrader@wisc.edu.
4
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: siddique@northwestern.edu.
5
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Department of Preventive Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: lvanhorn@northwestern.edu.
6
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Division of Faculty Affairs, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: veronica.womack@northwestern.edu.
7
University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing, Department of Health Systems Science, Chicago, IL, USA. Electronic address: szenk@uic.edu.

Abstract

Large and persistent obesity disparities exist in the US by socioeconomic status (SES) and race/ethnicity, and weight loss interventions have traditionally been less effective in these populations. Thus, a better understanding is needed of the behavioral, economic, and geographic factors that influence obesity risk factors such as eating behaviors. We used a discrete choice experiment to evaluate the impact of different meal attributes on meal choice and to test whether the relative importance of these attributes varied by SES and race/ethnicity. Study participants (n = 228) were given a series of 10 choice tasks and asked to choose among 4 meals, each rated based on the following attributes: taste; healthfulness; preparation time; travel time to food outlet for meal/ingredients; and price. SES was measured using education and self-reported difficulty paying for basics. Race/ethnicity was categorized as Hispanic/Latina, non-Hispanic black, non-Hispanic white, and non-Hispanic other. Data were analyzed using mixed logit regression models with interaction terms to determine whether meal attributes influenced meal choices differentially by SES and race/ethnicity. Healthfulness and taste were the most important attributes for all participants. Price was a more important attribute among those in the lowest SES group compared with those in the higher SES groups. Travel was the least important attribute for low SES participants, and it was not significantly related to meal choice in these groups. Discrete choice experiments as illustrated here may help pinpoint the most salient targets for interventions to improve eating behaviors and reduce obesity disparities. Specifically, our findings suggest interventions should incorporate strategies to target the pricing of healthy and unhealthy food options.

KEYWORDS:

Diet; Discrete choice experiment; Race/ethnicity; Socioeconomic status

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