Why We Eat What We Eat: Social and Economic Determinants of Food Choice

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FOOD TODAY 10/2004
Why we eat what we eat: social and economic determinants of food choice The article highlighted the need to consider the senses when promoting dietary change. This article focuses on the socio-economic factors that influence food choice and draws attention to the difficulties facing low-income groups in achieving a healthy diet. How social factors influence individual food choice

Social influences on food intake refer to the impact that one or more persons has on the eating behaviour of others, either direct or indirect, either conscious or subconscious. Even when eating alone, food choice is influenced by social factors because attitudes and habits develop through the interaction with others (1).  Research has shown that we eat more with our friends and family than when we eat alone and the quantity of food increases as the number of fellow diners grows (2). The economics of food choice

The relationship between low socio-economic status and poor health is complicated and is influenced by gender, age, culture, environment, social and community networks, individual lifestyle factors and health behaviours (4). Population studies show there are clear differences in social classes with regard to food and nutrient intakes. Low-income groups in particular, have a greater tendency to consume unbalanced diets and have low intakes of fruit and vegetables (3). This leads to both under-nutrition (micronutrients deficiency) and over-nutrition (energy overconsumption resulting in overweight and obesity) within the members of a community, depending on the age group, gender and level of deprivation. The disadvantaged also develop chronic diseases at an earlier age compared with higher socio-economic groups; usually identified by educational and occupational levels. Low-income groups

Low-income groups who find it difficult to achieve a balanced healthy diet, are often referred to as experiencing food poverty or food insecurity (5). There are many aspects...
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