Research

Overview

The last three decades have brought about globalized systems of food production and trade along with rapid urbanization and the expansion of retail markets. Together, these changes contribute to the ongoing modification and displacement of food environments in low- and middle-income countries. Individuals are now faced with complex decisions about what, where, how, when, and for whom to produce, obtain, prepare, distribute, and consume food, but decision-making is poorly understood in the context of the rapidly changing food environment. A holistic understanding of decision-making around food choice is needed to facilitate actions that will lead to improved diets for optimal health and well-being at the individual, household, community, and population levels. 

The purpose of the Drivers of Food Choice (DFC) competitive grants program is to facilitate, synthesize and disseminate research to provide a deep understanding of the drivers of food choice among the poor in developing countries in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa that account for 90% of the global burden of undernutrition. The projects that were funded through this grants program aim to strengthen country-level leadership in nutrition and foster a global community of food choice researchers. 

Food Choice Defined

Food choice involves the processes by which people consider, select, prepare, distribute, and consume foods and beverages. The overarching question addressed in studies of food choice is, “why do individuals eat the foods they do?” Food choice behaviors are integral to social and economic expression of identities, preferences, and cultural meanings and ultimately influence nutrient intake and health. Drivers of food choice include interconnected biological, psychological, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and political factors. Influencing food choice involves efforts to promote and facilitate the purchase, provision, and consumption of healthier foods of individuals, families and communities and includes emphasis on food environments.