Food choice: a conceptual model of the process

Appetite. 1996 Jun;26(3):247-65. doi: 10.1006/appe.1996.0019.


Interviews examining the food choice process were conducted with 29 adults, primarily individuals making grocery store food choice decisions, who were sampled for their diversity. These people were asked about how they chose foods when shopping and in other settings, and what influenced their choices. Verbatim transcripts of the interviews were analysed using qualitative methods that included constant comparison, concept mapping, and case summaries, and a conceptual food choice process model was developed. Data from the interviews are presented to illustrate the structure of this conceptual model. People's life course experiences affected major influences on food choice that included ideals, personal factors, resources, social contexts and the food context. These influences informed the development of personal systems for making food choices that incorporated value negotiations and behavioral strategies. Value negotiations weighed sensory perceptions, monetary considerations, health and nutrition beliefs and concerns, convenience, social relationships and quality of food choice decisions. Strategies employed to simplify the food choice process developed over time. The conceptual food choice process model represents the rich and complex bases of food practices, and provides a theoretical framework for research and practice in nutrition.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attitude to Health
  • Culture
  • Dietary Fats
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Food Preferences* / physiology
  • Food Preferences* / psychology
  • Food Preservation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Models, Biological*
  • Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Seasons
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Time Factors


  • Dietary Fats