UofSC Food Choice Research

Food Choice for Children Under Five in Mexico

Work from postdoctoral research associate Ligia Reyes, PhD (Twitter handle: @LReyesCA)


The overall goal of this project was to improve the understanding about what drives food choice for children under five years old in rural Mexico. The first five years are a sensitive period in the formation of children’s dietary habits and preferences, and it is also a period in which children’s diets  transition from complementary feeding to diets that mirror that of the family. How and why this transition occurs remains largely understudied in settings like Mexico, and other low- and middle-income countries facing the double burden of malnutrition. Using qualitative methodology, this project examined maternal food acquisition through a characterization of the local food environment and the function of social networks in maternal food choice for children.

Findings from this project are in preparation for peer-review publications and have been presented at the annual American Society for Nutrition Conference and the Latin American Society for Nutrition Conference. This project was designed and conducted by Dr. Ligia Reyes for her dissertation. Funding for this research was obtained from the Office of the Vice President for Research at the University of South Carolina as a SPARC Graduate Research Grant.

In 2018, the research team (Dr. Edward Frongillo, Dr. Christine Blake, and Dr. Ligia Reyes)  expanded this work to focus on food choice for children made by primary caregivers and alternative caregivers to examine a more collective unit of decision-making for children. Findings from this research are forthcoming.

Drivers of adolescent food choice in urban Ghana

Work from doctoral candidate Krystal Rampalli, MPH (Twitter handle: @healthisglocal


This project is exploring drivers of food choice among adolescents amidst changing food environments in Ghana’s capital, Accra. Many food/beverage companies use Western marketing techniques when targeting kids. Some food/beverage adverts feature models with unrealistic body types who promote consumption of unhealthy foods/beverages. Therefore, we are interested in the knowledge, attitudes, and food choice behaviors of this population as it pertains to body image perceptions and decisions about food portion size consumption.  It is a mixed-methods study that will involve in-depth interviews with adolescents as well as an analysis of the marketing communications within and around the food environments and on television in the region.

For more information about Krystal’s ongoing work in Ghana, visit the MEALS4NCDs Facebook and Twitter: