Behavioral Economics Influences on Food Consumption
Understanding the link between behavior and food choices could help shed light on obesity and other nutrition-related issues of public concern. Although information from current research and surveys identifies risk factors associated with health and nutrition outcomes, more research is needed to understand the psychological factors that drive food choices.
Mathematica collected formative data from 300 women to help develop a set of subjective questions that could ultimately form the basis of a behavioral module added to standard consumption and health surveys. The formative research involved testing subjective questions aimed at measuring how individual behavioral tendencies and psychological traits relate to food consumption behavior and overall dietary quality and health outcomes.
Our work involved designing an instrument that integrates new measures about mood with items from the American Time Use Survey and combines them with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Automated Multiple Pass Method 24-hour dietary recall instrument. Customizing and combining these two established measures along with new questions enabled us to provide researchers with a tool to examine how women’s moods, time use, and food consumption are interrelated. The complex programming, coding, and linking allowed researchers to see what people were doing and feeling at the time they consumed different foods.
This project involved computer-assisted telephone interviews, including a short recruitment interview, and mailing of visual aid materials. We then followed up with a recall interview that combined 24-hour dietary recall and time use into a single interview.