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Healthy food choices From May 2009 newsletter

Healthy food choices

Understanding the factors that influence food choice is important in product development and guiding programmes that encourage healthy eating.The HELENA* project focused specifically on those factors affecting food choice amongst adolescents. Three R&D reports (Nos. 267, 273 and 279) detail Campden BRI's output as part of this major EU-wide project.

The research involved both qualitative and quantitative studies. Focus groups were used to gather information on eating habits, factors influencing choice, and sources of information on healthy eating.These provided insight into aspects such as snacking, the perceived importance of health in influencing choice, and barriers to healthy eating. Central Locations Tests were also used to evaluate the acceptability to adolescent consumers of new healthier products - including whole grain cereal drinks, snack bars with fibre and milk protein, and lower calorie hamburgers.

A purpose-built 'food choices and preferences' questionnaire was administered to over 3,200 adolescents across 10 European countries. It revealed, for example, that boys were more concerned with the taste of food, whilst believing their diet to be healthy, whereas girls claimed to prefer choosing healthier options.

*Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence