Understanding food consumption behaviors; Prospects for shifting towards sustainable diets
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Every day, every one of the 8 billion people on the earth must decide about what to eat. By 2050, the world's population will have grown by at least 2 billion people, raising the question of whether we will be able to continue eating the same way. Moreover, Energy and resource use, meat consumption, and food transport have greatly threatened the existing food system. To preserve a healthy and sustainable diet for everybody, a potential solution for this challenge can be shifting dietary choices to mitigate the general need for food supply and related resources. However, it is a challenge to achieve realistic dietary adjustments because of the complicated nature of the variables that influence food choices. While making purchasing and eating decisions, people might be influenced by personal factors such as health, price and, sensory appeal or by environmental factors such as food choice influencers, food culture and, sociability. Demographic status and previous diet changes also play important roles in shaping one’s food behaviors. This thesis creates a model based on the Social Cognitive Theory to categorize these variables, and then conducts an exploratory analysis of the model using an online survey. The goal of this study is to understand the primary variables that influence Canadians' food choices, as well as how these factors differ depending on socio-demographic characteristics including gender, age, and education levels as well as how previous diet changes can affect the significance of factors. The preliminary model identifies eight major personal determinants and three major environmental determinants that influence Canadians' food choices. Having these factors identified helps break down the decision-making process one goes through when making food choices. To conduct an exploratory analysis of this model, a quantitative approach was used, and an online survey was sent to 3623 Canadians across the country. The result of this study revealed that Price and Sociability are the dominant constructs for Canadians in their food choices. These two constructs remain almost consistently important over the three socio-demographic characteristics examined as well. Socio-demographics reported significantly different attitudes on five out of eleven constructs. Understanding consumer attitudes and behaviors around dietary patterns are critical in identifying significant leverage points for positively affecting future food requirements and targeting different segments of consumers for diet shifts that are achievable. The results of this study highlight the key connections between each factor and consumer groups for policymakers and marketers to act accordingly. Taking a step further, we can apply the results of this study to other locations around the world and guide public food purchasing decisions to be more sustainable.
Cite this version of the work
Kimiya Bahari (2023). Understanding food consumption behaviors; Prospects for shifting towards sustainable diets. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19167