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CSIRO has expertise in assessing and monitoring food and dietary choice - and assessment of predictors and behavioural outcomes of such choices.

Our expertise in understanding food choices

CSIRO is examining the diet/health nexus and of the determinants of food choice.

  • 7 November 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011

The capability

The Consumer Behaviour group comprises:

  • consumer scientists
  • cognitive, health, organisational and social and clinical psychologists
  • nutritionists
  • teachers
  • public health researchers.

It works with the health and industry sectors to develop a better understanding of diet-disease relationships and to provide a marketing edge for healthy foods.

The group undertakes work in the following areas:

  • identifying the psychological, social and sensory factors involved in food choice
  • determining the effects of dietary components on cognition and mood
  • maintaining a strategic research base to identify future community or policy-based opportunities or threats to the Government and Food industry sectors of the region, based on consumer risk perception
  • psychosocial determinants of maintaining a healthy weight, including facilitators and barriers to adopting diets, controlling cholesterol and exercise behaviour.

Areas of particular expertise include:

  • psychosocial theory and practice
  • understanding relationships between diet, behaviour, cognition and mood
  • designing and conducting experimental and non-experimental research
  • focus group facilitation
  • evaluating public health programs
  • developing psychosocial measurement instruments including questionnaires.

How CSIRO uses it

There is evidence that consumers in Australia and neighbouring Asian countries are becoming more health oriented and environmentally aware in their food selection, demanding more information about both the nutritional value and safety aspects of the food supply.

Issues such as food labelling, health claims, functional foods, fortification of foods and validity of nutrition information about foods are of interest, not only to consumers but also to the food industries and legislators in the region.

CSIRO has expertise in assessing and monitoring food and dietary choice - and assessment of predictors and behavioural outcomes of such choices.

These issues need to be addressed within the evolving societal and legislative frameworks of Australia and neighbouring countries, as well as international trade considerations. To do this we need a good understanding of the diet/health nexus and of the determinants of food choice in the population including both individual and societal influences.

Current activity in this area includes:

  • consumer attitudes to new food and agricultural technologies and associated food products, for example plant omega-3 fatty acid uptake
  • designing lifestyle programs for weight, sustained exercise and activity in order to maintain a healthy weight and reduce the risk of obesity related health problems
  • investigating ways to improve the uptake of people undertaking screening for colorectal (bowel) cancer, which is the most prevalent form of newly diagnosed cancer affecting Australians.

Who else is involved

We work with:

  • agribusiness companies (such as Unilever Netherlands)
  • the grains industry
  • CSIRO Animal, Food and Health Sciences
  • Meat and Livestock Australia.

Learn more about our work in Food and Agriculture.