The determinants of food choice

Gareth Leng, Roger Adan, Michele Belot, Jeff Brunstrom, Kees de Graaf, Suzanne Dickson, Todd Hare, Silvia Maier, John Menzies, Hubert Preissl, Lucia Reisch, Peter Rogers, Paul Smeets

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

209 Citations (Scopus)
598 Downloads (Pure)


Health nudge interventions to steer people into healthier lifestyles are increasingly applied by governments worldwide, and it is natural to look to such approaches to improve health by altering what people choose to eat. However, to produce policy recommendations that are likely to be effective, we need to be able to make valid predictions about the consequences of proposed interventions, and for this, we need a better understanding of the determinants of food choice. These determinants include dietary components (e.g. highly palatable foods and alcohol), but also diverse cultural and social pressures, cognitive-affective factors (perceived stress, health attitude, anxiety and depression), and familial, genetic and epigenetic influences on personality characteristics. In addition, our choices are influenced by an array of physiological mechanisms, including signals to the brain from the gastrointestinal tract and adipose tissue, which affect not only our hunger and satiety but also our motivation to eat particular nutrients, and the reward we experience from eating. Thus, to develop the evidence base necessary for effective policies, we need to build bridges across different levels of knowledge and understanding. This requires experimental models that can fill in the gaps in our understanding that are needed to inform policy, translational models that connect mechanistic understanding from laboratory studies to the real life human condition, and formal models that encapsulate scientific knowledge from diverse disciplines, and which embed understanding in a way that enables policy-relevant predictions to be made. Here we review recent developments in these areas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)316-327
Number of pages12
JournalProceedings of the Nutrition Society
Issue number3
Early online date1 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017

Structured keywords

  • Brain and Behaviour
  • Nutrition and Behaviour


  • Nudges
  • Neuroimaging
  • appetite
  • hypothalamus
  • modelling


Dive into the research topics of 'The determinants of food choice'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this