Food likes and their relative importance in human eating behavior: review and preliminary suggestions for health promotion

Health Educ Res. 2001 Aug;16(4):443-56. doi: 10.1093/her/16.4.443.


The present article reviews research about the psychological determinants of human eating behavior. A hypothetical model of food choice and intake is introduced, presenting various factors influencing eating behavior. Internal factors include sensory food aspects. Among the external factors are information, the social context and the physical environment. Processes such as mere exposure, Pavlovian conditioning and social learning shape the relationships between these factors, food liking and eating behavior. The relative contribution of the various determinants is discussed. In spite of a scarcity of studies, liking for the sensory aspects of food seems to be at the center of the development, maintenance and change of dietary patterns. Consequently, efforts for promoting healthy eating behavior might benefit from an increased attention towards learning principles and food likes in the development of interventions. Existing intervention strategies are criticized and preliminary suggestions are formulated to enhance their effectiveness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Feeding Behavior*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Research