What influences what we eat?

Have you ever thought about what makes you choose the food you eat? We may start the day with good intentions to eat a certain way and stick to our healthy lifestyle and weight loss goals but sometimes we get to the end of the day and wonder what went wrong.

There are many things that influence food choices and although hunger is a key factor there are many other factors which we might not even be aware of.

The European Food Information Council (EUFIC) lists some of those influences:

  • Biological determinants such as hunger, appetite, and taste

  • Economic determinants such as cost, income, availability

  • Physical determinants such as access, education, skills (e.g. cooking) and time

  • Social determinants such as culture, family, peers and meal patterns

  • Psychological determinants such as mood, stress and guilt

  • Attitudes, beliefs and knowledge about food

One powerful influence is the food we are exposed to each day through advertising. 

At there launch in 2018 Biteback 2030 revealed the effect of advertising on 8 young people and the meal they chose when eating at a restaurant. Without even realising it they were exposed to lots of adverts beforehand which influenced their choice. You can watch their video here.

Three years ago a ban on junk food ads was put in place across the Transport for London network. This meant that posters for foods high in fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) were removed from stations, bus stops, trains, buses and taxis. A recent study, which looked at the effect this ban has had on the shopping purchases of Londoners showed, on average, a 1000 calorie reduction of unhealthy purchases for each household each week. The biggest reduction was a 20% decrease in purchases of chocolate and confectionery. This works out as each Londoner buying 1.5 less chocolate bars each week.

Barbara Crowther, from the Children’s Food Campaign, said: “We’re delighted to see that TfL’s healthier food advertising policy is working as intended and is helping to stem the tide of junk food advertising that constantly nudges us towards less healthy options.”

Last year the government announced a plan to ban HFSS advertising on TV and online before 9 pm. If this happens it will be another move in the right direction to stop us being nudged towards unhealthier food.

By registering with Get Healthy Rotherham, you can gain access to advice and support on how to reach and maintain a healthy weight, eat a balanced diet, become more physically active, quit smoking and live a healthier lifestyle. Click the register button to find out more.