Essay Writing Service

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

An investigative study into the factors that influence food choice and weight loss.

This research project was written to investigate the key factors that influence food choice and weight loss. The study focused on adults over the age of 18. Throughout the course of this study extensive primary and secondary research was conducted, in order to collect information to solve the research question ‘Why people eat the food they do and what inspires them to lose weight?’. The Secondary through the review of literature sourced from the Dublin Institute of Technology (D.I.T) database, academic books and websites. A mixed method approach was used consisting of both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Four semi-structured interviews, a focus group, and a questionnaire were used in order to gather the information required.

Several key factors that influence a person’s food choice were identified during the study, they were then sorted into four categories. Several factors that influence weight loss were also identified during this study.

1.1  Introduction

This research project aims to investigate the key factors that influence food choice and weight loss. This study will comprise of an in-depth review on the literature surrounding the key factors that influence food choice and the key factors that inspire people to lose weight.

People must choose, purchase and consume food in order to survive. The consumption of food not only satisfies biological needs, it also represents the interactions and relationships among the individuals, their culture and their society. The average person engages in several eating and drinking episodes each day, each of which requires many decisions including whether, what, when, where, with whom, how, how long, and how much to eat. It is estimated that most people make over 220 food decisions each day (Sobal and Bisogni, 2009). This dissertation reviews literature relevant to food choice and weight loss to establish context for the research question. The literature review focuses on the importance of investigating food choice and weight loss. The general aim of this research is to understand influences on food choice behaviour and the factors that inspire weight loss.

1.2  Research Rational

The rational sustaining his research project originates from a personal interest in food, nutrition and weight loss. As a person who has lost weight, struggled to keep it off, and eventually gain back a lot of weight. I decided to conduct a research project on the topic as it personally interests me and in order to discover what drives other people to eat the food they do and what inspires them to lose weight.

1.3  Research Question

Why do people eat the food they eat? And what inspires them to lose weight?

1.4  Research Aims and Objectives

The aim of this research is to investigate the factors which influence food choice and weight loss. Objectives were identified through exploratory and secondary research.

  1. To identify and highlight the key factors that influence food choice.
  2. To identify the key factors that inspire people to lose weight.
  3. To investigate if there is a correlation between the two.

2.1 What is consumer behaviour?

Consumer behaviour is defined as the study of the consumer and the exchange processes involved in acquiring, consuming and disposing of goods, services to satisfy their needs and desires (Linehan, 2008). In other words, consumer behaviour is influenced by lifestyle, personality, knowledge, motivation, attitudes, beliefs, and feelings. Linehan (2008) also suggests that the behaviour of a consumer has three activities; acquisition, consumption, and disposition. Acquisition being the activities leading to the actual purchase, consumption is how, where and under what circumstances the consumer will use the product, and disposition this being the action by which the consumer disposes of the products which they have consumed.

A consumer is generally thought of as an individual who recognises a need or desire, makes a purchase, and then disposes of the product during the three stages in the consumption process. The term consumer behaviour is used to describe two separate consumer entities; the personal consumer and the organisational consumer. The personal consumer purchases products for his/her own use, intended for use in the household, or as a gift. In each of these situations the product is purchased for final use by individuals, who are also known as ultimate consumers. The organisational consumer includes companies, schools, hospitals, etc… purchase products that are required to run their organisation. (Schiffman, Hansen and Kanuk, 2008). The decisions of all consumers are influenced by several individual characteristics that are linked to the consumers’ individual needs (Chaudhuri).

2.1.1 Consumer decision making process

Consumer decision making is defined as the process by which consumers identify their needs/desires, collect information on product/service, evaluate alternatives, and make the purchase decision. Psychological and economic factors determine these actions, and are influenced by cognitive and emotional factors such as family, friends, moods, role models, and advertisers (Schiffman, Hansen and Kanuk, 2008).

IGURE 1: Model of Consumer Decision-Making (Schiffman, Hansen and Kanuk, 2008, p 75)

Input

In this particular consumer behaviour model the input componant draws on external influences to serve as sources of information regarding a product and shape a consumer’s product-related values, behaviour and attitudes.

The firms marketing efforts are a straight-forward attempt  to inform consumers of their products and attempt to influence them into ourchasing said products. These inputs to the consumers decision making process form a clear marketing strategy employed by the company, that is a combination of the product (including its packaging), media advertisment, pricing policy and a carefully selected set of distribution channels to best suit their product and move the product from manufacturer to consumer (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2009).

The sociocultural environment, also has a huge influence on the consumer. Sociocultural influences consist of a vast range of non-commercial influences. These influences such as social class and culture play a major role in how consumers evaluate products and make their purchasing decisions.

Process

The consumer decision-making model, illustrated above, displays a simplified model of a much more complex process. The process of the model is concerned with how consumers make decisions. The psychological field represents the internal influences that affect a consumers’ decisions, such as motivations, learning, personality, and attitudes. (Schiffman, Hansen and Kanuk, 2008). The decision-making process consists of three stages, as illustrated in figure 1, pictured above.

  1. Need recognition
  2. Pre-purchase search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives

The need recognition stage is most likely to occur when a consumer recognises that they have a need for something. It is because of this that companies intentionally market their products to cause consumers to recognise a problem and attempt to reach, inform, and persuade consumers to purchase their products (Linehan, 2008). They often attempt to cause consumers to believe that their product is outdated and that they need the company’s product (Schiffman, Hansen and Kanuk, 2008). If the need to purchase the product is strong enough the consumer may enter the second stage of the decision-making process, which is the pre-purchase search.

The second stage of the decision-making process, which is the pre-purchase search will begin if/when the consumer recognises a need that they believe will be satisfied with the purchase and consumption of the product. (Schiffman, Hansen and Kanuk, 2008). The consumer may begin to actively gather information on the product in question, by looking researching online, in stores and by speaking to friends. (Kotler and Keller). Several factors will affect a consumers’ pre-purchase search such as experience, value-related considerations, social acceptability, personality, and many factors about the product itself. (Schiffman, Hansen and Kanuk, 2008).

The third stage is evaluation of alternatives. This is the stage in which consumers evaluate the alternatives that they have identified to solve their problem (Linehan, 2008). Through an evaluation procedure, the consumer can form opinions towards the products they are considering and form a belief on where each product stands in relation to their set of needs. It is at this stage that many other factors need to be considered when choosing a product such as price, convenience, skills, and equipment needed.

Output

Figure 1, also shows post purchase behaviour. There are two stages in this post purchase behaviour.

  1. Purchase decision
  2. Post-purchase evaluation

The evaluation of alternative products can affect the consumers purchase decision and may have led the consumer to form preferences for certain products or a certain brand of product. Per Linehan (2008) consumers generally make three types of purchases; trial purchases, repeat purchases, and long-standing commitment purchases. A trial purchase is a first-time buy to evaluate the product. Repeat purchase behaviour is related to brand loyalty. Repeat purchases generally indicates that the product meets with the customers’ expectations to an acceptable standard (Linehan, 2008).

Finally, in the post-purchase evaluation stage the consumers evaluate the product after it has been consumed. They evaluate the consciences of their purchase and ultimately the disposal of the waste remaining from their purchase. The main outcome of this stage is the reduction in any uncertainty the consumer had about the product prior to their purchase (Solomon et al. 2010)

2.2 Consumer decision making models

Models of consumer decision making have been developed to satisfy the objectives of describing and predicting consumer behaviour, to gain a better understanding of both customers and potential customers. Per Chisnall (1995) a consumer behaviour model is the simplification of complex variables, which helps to explain a large system by showing only the essential elements, and cannot be considered as anything other than a rough breakdown of a complex system. Therefore, a consumer decision making model represents a theoretical construction of circumstances that are thought to be significant in influencing the outcome of the purchasing process.

2.2.1 The Engel-Blackwell-Miniard Model

For this paper, only the Engel-Blackwell-Minirad model (EBM) will be described in detail, which was developed from the Engel-Kollat-Blackwell (EKB) model (Chisnall, 1995). As shown in the model consumers generally go through seven stages when making decisions; need recognition, search for information, pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives, purchase, consumption, post-consumption evaluation, and divestment.

Stage 1: Need recognition

Entry into the model starts with need recognition, which is triggered when the consumer recognises a problem or need (e.g. hunger) or responds to stimuli input, individual or environmental variables. Consumers are exposed to a variety of different stimuli, whether they be marketing stimuli (advertising, store display) or non-marketing (friends, family). Because of these stimulus, the consumer is provided with information on the product and will enter the decision-making process (Blackwell, Miniard and Engel, 2006).

Stage 2: Information search

After an individual, has acknowledged a need they will begin to process information provided by stimuli into meaningful information and begin to search for any additional information on products that may satiate their need. The level information search will vary depending on the severity of the problem or need, and the requirements that must be met. For example; simpler problems may be solved with information searches being conducted solely through internal searches of past experiences (Chisnall, 1995). As the consumer is exposed to information through their external searches, they must then process the information. In this model information is believed to pass through five stages of processing before use and storage,

  1. Exposure

This occurs when the consumer is exposed to marketing stimuli. Once this exposure has begun, the consumer’s senses are activated and this is when the processing begins.

  1. Attention

After exposure, the next stage in the process is the decision whether to allocate information processing capacity to the incoming information. Whether the consumer will pay attention depends on how relevant the message and the content. It is generally at this stage that consumers ignore commercial persuasion.

  1. Comprehension

This stage begins if the consumer’s attention is attracted. If the consumer is attracted, then the message will be analysed against categories of meaning stored in memory.

  1. Acceptance

After comprehension, has occurred, the message will either be dismissed or accepted. The message is aimed at the consumer in the hopes of changing their current attitudes or beliefs towards the product.

  1. Retention of information.

Finally, the desired outcome for any persuader is for the new information on their product or service is to be accepted by the consumer and stored in memory for later use.

Stage 3: Pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives

Any alternative choices that are made by the consumer, are evaluated through utilisation of past experiences and previous evaluations stored in memory to select products, services, etc. factors affect this process of evaluation such as price, reliability, size, and quality (Schiffman and Wisenblit, 2015).

 

 

Stage 4: Purchase

The next stage of the consumer decision making process is purchase. After a consumer makes the decision on whether to purchase a product or not, consumers pass through two phases. The first phase consists of the consumer choosing which retailer to purchase from. Once this decision has been made the consumer enters the second phase of this stage, which is in-store choices. This may be influenced by salespeople, product displays, etc. (Blackwell, Miniard and Engel, 2006).

Stage 5: Consumption

Once a purchase is made, the consumption stage of the process begins. This stage focuses on the consumers use of the product. In the case of a food product the consumer may use this product immediately or store it for much later use. Depending on whether the product is purchased with the intention of immediate use or for future use can affect how the consumer evaluates the product.

Stage 6: Post-consumption evaluation

Post-consumption evaluation follows consumption, in which consumers are either satisfied or dissatisfied by their purchase and consumption of the product. If the product fails to meet the expectations of the consumer, then they will feel a sense of dissatisfaction. However, if the product does meet these expectations then the consumer will be satisfied with their purchase. The outcome of this stage is often stored in memory and will be used by the consumer when purchasing products once again. Customer satisfaction is key for businesses to gain a loyal customer base.

Stage 7: Divestment

Divestment is the final stage in the process and is basically the disposal of the product or its packaging after use. For example; a consumer may sell on their car to another consumer after they have finished with the car. In terms of food products, the product is generally completely used with the packaging either being recycled or disposed of completely.

2.3.1 What is food choice?

Food choice is a very complicated behaviour as it involves the selection and consumption of foods and beverages, considering what, how, when and with whom people eat as well as other aspects of their food and eating behaviours (Shepherd and Raats, 2006). Smith (1997) states that over time certain food choices can be affected by a number of factors. He refers to the fact that the decision to purchase a particular food product can be influenced by factors such as biological, social, cultural and psychological factors. He also refers to the fact that the

2.3.2 Food choice decisions

Food choice decisions are extremely numerous in modern society. Food has become so available and accessible that it can be obtained virtually anywhere, at any time and by anyone. Due to the high availability of food, people are experiencing too many eating opportunities, which is often labelled as “the tyranny of choice”. While not all food choice decisions lead to eating, people still need to decide not to eat. The average person engages in several eating and drinking episodes each day, each of which requires many decisions including whether, what, when, where, with whom, how, how long, and how much to eat. It is estimated that most people make over 220 food decisions each day (Sobal and Bisogni, 2009). Food choice decisions are complex, including a great variety of food behaviours. These food behaviours include several stages of food handling, each of which may have different decision processes.

  • Acquiring, obtains foods through personal production, or from markets, institutions, or social exchanges.
  • Preparing, involves transforming raw ingredients into edible food through the utilisation of a variety of techniques to alter the form, temperature, and consistency of the food.
  • Serving, organises the eating setting, presents the food, and distributes it to the individuals who are eating.
  • Eating, involves the consumption and digestion of food.
  • Giving away food shares it with individuals who are not present.
  • These stages involve storage, where the food or ingredients are saved and protected between stages.
  • Finally, cleaning up is a necessary behaviour that follows the food preparation and eating behaviours

The above figure illustrates how food behaviour is a complex process that involves many, interconnected decisions. For example, a decision about what to eat is often connected to a decision about where to get the food and how to prepare it. Food behaviours do not only involve decisions regarding the food, but they also involve decisions regarding other aspects of a situation in which the food behaviour occurs, aspects such as time, locations, etc.

Food choice decisions are dynamic and change over time. As a result of this the food choice decisions we are faced with today differ greatly from those that earlier generations have faced. People will engage in different food choice decisions as they grow on a personal level. Food choice decisions are situational and because of this people are faced with different food choice decisions as they pass through different situations and settings throughout the course of their lives. Food choice decisions are complex because they involve various considerations about what, where, when, and with whom to eat. The decision on what to eat may involve a simple choice between a few food options (e.g., burger or pizza) or require selection between many different options and may also include judgment using few qualities of the food (e.g., taste and health) or consider various attributes (e.g. taste, health, cost and convenience).

The decision a person makes of when to eat may simply be deciding to eat a snack immediately or to not eat anything at all, or it may be more complex by deciding whether or not to eat a snack based on memories of past snacks or meals. Deciding where to eat may consider a single setting (e.g. cafeteria), or evaluate multiple different settings (e.g. cafeteria, restaurant, vending machine). The decision with whom to eat may involve the simple choice to dine alone in isolation, it may also be more complex in deciding to dine with others, which involves multiple individuals making a joint decision.

2.4 Factors influencing food choice

Food choice is a seemingly simple behaviour, but in fact is extremely complicated as it is influenced by several various factors, such as biological, social, cultural and psychological factors. According to Shepherd and Raats (2006) the biggest determinant of what some individual eats is availability. Therefore, because socio-economic factors essentially affect the availability of food it is one of the biggest determinants of food choice.

2.4.1 Socio-economic factors

Socioeconomic status is an individual’s or family’s economic and social position relative to others, based on family income, education, and occupation (Assael, 2004). Economic factors such as cost of food, income, level of education and time constraints are also important determinants of food with direct consequences for nutrient availability. As can be expected food prices, can play a huge part in food choice, especially within groups of lower socio-economic status. Food price is a factor, given that foods that are nutrient-dense and healthy, generally cost more than foods that are energy-dense and nutrient poor, such as refined cereals and fast food. As a result of this low-cost foods do in fact satisfy hunger and are often chosen by those with a low income in order to feed themselves and their families, as they are more affordable and more accessible in low-income areas (Darmon and Drewnowski, 2008). As a result of this it is known that those in lower socio-economic groups are more likely to be obese.

2.5 Biological determinants

Consumption of food is required for survival, as a result of this biological determinants play a key role in the food selection process. Humans begin to eat as a result of signals within the body that are sent due to falling energy stores. These signals stop when the brain receives signals of satiety, which occur once food is detected, ingested and absorbed (Rozin 2006).

It is believed that taste is a main factor in food choice. Humans as a species seem to have a biological preference to certain tastes, attraction to sweets tastes and aversion to bitter tastes.

The smell, taste and appearance of the food increase the palatability of the food. As a result of this the food may be consumed for pleasure rather than as an energy source (Næs, Brockhoff and Tomić).

2.6 Psychological determinants

Emotions and attitude are the main psychological determinants that influence food choice (Lyman 1989). Certain kinds of food are often chosen as a result of emotions e.g. to reduce stress or to lift mood. Ingestion of certain types of food can induce positive emotions. According to Macht (Macht 1-11) tasting energy-dense foods such as sugar causes positive responses that promote ingestion, while tasting bitter foods causes negative response and promotes rejection. Macht has identified the three types of eaters, each of whom respond differently to their emotional states in terms of their eating habits. Restrained eaters increase their food intake when subjected to emotions, whether they are positive or negative. Emotional eaters regulate their negative emotions by eating high-sugar and high-fat foods. This is commonly known as “comfort eating”.  Usually negative emotions generally seem to reduce the consumers appetite. However, based on the results gathered by Macht it is difficult to predict how normal eaters change when subject to emotions.

2.7 Social Determinants

The food choices of individuals are affected by their contact with other individuals whether it be family, friends or co-workers. Even the context in which social eating occurs may influence the choice of some foods. Food choice in the moment can play a large role in food choice, especially if made within a group. Rozin (2006) states that when an individual is faced with a food choice he/she refers to his or her memories of any past encounters with their current choices and will choose the product that provides memories of enjoyment or pleasure. One major influence on food choice is current fad movements, such as low-fat or the most recent fad veganism.

Section Two

In the first section of this chapter the topic of consumer behaviour and food choice was reviewed. In this section literature surrounding the factors that influence weight loss is reviewed.

2.8 Introduction

The word diet comes from the Greek word “diaita” which is described as a whole way of life rather than referring to a narrow, weight-loss regimen. It provided an all-round mental and physical way of health, basic to ones very existence and success. (Foxcroft, 2012). At this time, the word had a much broader meaning than in today’s culture when it is associated with food restrictions and attempted weight loss. (TheFreeDictionary.com, 2015)

Dieting for weight loss was never a concern for our ancestors, in fact they had quite the opposite problem sometimes struggling to consume enough calories. Diets as we know them only became common from the 19th century onwards, prior to this the first recorded attempt to diet in order to lose weight was as far back as the 11th century. William the conqueror, towards the end of his life became so overweight that he could no longer climb onto his horse. (Cellania and lindsay bluth, 2010). In order to cut his waistline adopted a “liquid diet” in which he simply drank alcohol rather than consuming food. A diet similar to this has been dubbed as “drunkorexia” in recent media. (Diet-blog.com, 2015)

2.9 Approaches to Weight Loss

The food we eat plays a key part in human development and making the right choices is vital to meet our nutritional requirements. However, as body image becomes more important than ever in western society and obesity figures increasing, there has also been an increase in the number of fad diets and weight loss clubs. A number of fad diets emerged in the late 19th century. These diets claimed to provide quick weight loss and with such a focus placed on body image and attaining the “perfect body” at this time, attracted millions. Over the following century a number of new fad diets have emerged such as the Atkins diet, the 5:2 diet and the cabbage soup diet. Due to their severe restrictions on certain foods or even whole food groups, these diets are generally unsafe or work only as short term quick fixes. These diets are often endorsed by celebrities who claim that this particular diet gave them their movie star body.

2.10         Conclusion

This chapter reviewed the literature and presented the findings of multiple academic researchers surrounding the topic of consumer behaviour, factors that influence food choice and weight loss. The factors that influence food choice were identified as socio-economic, biological, psychological and societal influences. These factors were discussed in detail and were investigated by reviewing research conducted on the topic by a number of different researchers. Several factors that inspire people to lose weight were also identified. These were celebrities and media, mainly in the form of fad diets.

3.1 Introduction

This research paper attempts to identify the key factors that influence the food choice and weight loss among the population in Dublin. The purpose of this chapter is to identify the methodologies utilised to answer these questions. As Robson (2014) claims, the aim of the research methodology chapter is to explain to readers how the research was accomplished. The chapter begins by explaining just how the research question, aims and objectives were identified and describes the research method. It also presents the search strategies employed for the secondary research which was carried out by means of a literature review. Malhotra et al. (2007) recognise that a connection exists between secondary research that has been gathered and analysed and the information was collected through primary research. Finally, it describes the data collection and data analysis methods.

3.2 Identifying the research question, aim and objectives

The main aim of this research paper is to answer two questions

  1. Why people eat the food they do?
  2. Why people choose to lose weight?

 

It aims to identify the key factors that influence food choice and weight loss among the adult population in Dublin. Exploratory discussions were carried out at the beginning of the study in order to clearly define the research question. Once the research question was defined, the research objectives were identified. These were identified in order to gain a greater understanding of the research topic, and to answer the research question.

The objectives were

  1. To identify and highlight the key factors that influence food choice.
  2. To identify the key factors that inspire people to lose weight.
  3. To investigate if there is a correlation between the two.

3.3 Primary Research

 

Walliman (2011) states that primary research is research which, is collected by the researcher and has yet to be confirmed. Primary research was carried out in this study to answer the research questions and to validate all secondary research that was also carried out for the study. Primary research that is carried out should support the secondary data that has been obtained. Since primary research takes a long time to gather secondary sources are usually exhausted first before any primary research is conducted. It is crucial that the researcher develops a research approach that will produce the information that is required to answer the research questions.

3.4 Research Approach

For this research topic both qualitative and quantitative methods of research were conducted in order to gain a greater overall perspective on the subject. Research began with a focus group, followed by several interviews and finally followed with a questionnaire.

3.5  Focus Group

Flick (2015) claims, that a focus group is a research method used in market and other forms of research, in which a group is invited to discuss the issue of a study for research purposes. He also claims that during focus groups, participants are more likely to express more and go further into detail than they are in one on one interviews. On Monday July 24th, 2017, a selected group of 8 adults were chosen to participate in a focus group. This group was comprised of 5 women and 3 men. During the focus group session, which lasted 20 minutes, the participants were encouraged to discuss the topic of healthy eating, food choice and weight loss.

3.6 Mixed Methodology Approach

A mixed methodology approach was used during this study. This combines both quantitative and qualitative research methods, was carried out in order to answer the research question proposed at the beginning of this study, and to validate the information gathered during secondary research (Flick, 2015). A mixed method approach produces different types of data on the same topic and in so doing provides more information to the researcher than a single method study. Quantitative research focuses primarily on impartial numeric data, this type of data is much easier to collect and analyse. Flick (2015) states that the strategy of the quantitative research as a “strictly goal-oriented procedure, which aims for the objectivity of its results by a standardisation of all steps as far as possible” meaning that the data is obtained independently of the researcher and not as a result of influence from the researcher. Example of quantitative research consists of experimental research and surveys (Slevitch, 2011). Qualitative research on the other hand tends to involve the researcher in terms of the contribution of data. It is established that the identity and beliefs of the researcher may have a significant effect on any data collected and on the analysis of said data. Examples of qualitative research methods include interviews and case studies. Table 1 below differentiates quantitative and qualitative research. The research methods chosen for this research were 4 semi-structured interviews, a focus group consisting of eight participants and a questionnaire. The focus group was used to help make the semi-structured interviews which were then qualitatively analysed. The questionnaires were quantitatively analysed using Survey Monkey. This combination of both quantitative and qualitative research provided both the numeric data and a more in depth understanding in order to answer the research questions.

3.7 Secondary Research

Secondary research is research that has not been collected for the current study but is available from other studies or from, for example, the documentation of administrative routines (Flick, 2015). Secondary research does however set the base for primary research. In this study, in depth secondary research was conducted in order to gain an overall understanding of the subject area. This research has been provided in Chapter Two: Literature Review.  Walliman (2011:34) states that the purpose of the literature review “is to discover relevant material published in the chosen field of study. Its goal is to review literature in order to make sense of a body of research and present an analysis of the available literature to the reader (Aveyard, 2010). This results in the development of new insights on the topic that would not been possible without reviewing all of the research together. It is known that even though every effort is made to provide the most thorough investigation as possible, that the results of a single researcher are not as convincing or as useful as the research provided by a group of researchers (Aveyard, 2010).

The body of secondary data reviewed for the purpose of this study includes: academic journals and eBook’s sourced from Dublin Institute of Technology (D.I.T) database, Academic journals sourced from Academicjournals.org.

3.8 Questionnaire

For this study, a questionnaire was considered to be the most efficient method of data collection for quantitative analysis. As a means of data collection, the questionnaire is a very flexible tool, as a result is the most commonly used method of primary data collection. Questionnaires also remove the personal touch of data collection as the responses are completely anonymous, in some cases this is a positive attribute of this process as it allows for potentially embarrassing questions to be asked, with a greater chance of receiving an honest reply (Walliman, 2011). For the purpose of this study, the questionnaire was produced with a mixture of open-ended questions and closed-ended multiple response questions. In total, there were 20 questions. These 20 questions were split into 3 sections. The first section was used to provide an overview of the population sample. The second section identifies factors that influence the respondent’s food choices, and then finally the third section identifies key factors that inspire the respondents weight loss, if they use slimming programmes and results obtained from said programmes.

The questionnaire was distributed in two ways. The first being distributed via the social media site Facebook. Social media sites are a great way to distribute questionnaires, however the results that were received initially seemed to mostly originate from the 18 – 24 age range, most of whom were students. The questionnaire was then shared to a slimming world group page in order to get a more varied age range. A phone call was made to a local slimming world organiser, asking for permission to attend a meeting to hand out the questionnaires personally, unfortunately this request was denied. The organiser did however offer to distribute the questionnaires during a meeting to any members that felt comfortable to answer the questions.

The second distribution method was to physically hand out the questionnaire to people in a public setting. In this case around Dublin City Centre. Unfortunately, this method did not yield positive results as most people that were approached refused to complete the questionnaire.

3.8.1 Advantages and Disadvantages of Questionnaires

There are several advantages and disadvantages to using questionnaires as a research method (DePoy and Gitlin, 2016).

Advantages

  • Questionnaires can be used for large and small-scale research.
  • Using the internet can be much faster and cost-effective way of distributing the surveys.
  • Wide coverage distribution.
  • Respondents can complete the surveys honestly and without pressure.
  • Capable of reaching all groups of people.

Disadvantages

  • If sent via email, surveys may be automatically deleted.
  • Will not obtained as detailed answers due to the structured nature of the questionnaire.
  • If sent via email, surveys may exclude the blind and the older generations.

3.9 Interviews

Four interviews were conducted during this study in order to gather qualitative data. The interviews consisted of a semi-structured one – to – one approach and were carried out in person. The interviews were conducted on Friday 30th July. Each interview lasted approximately 10 minutes. One to one interviews are more desirable than focus groups as they tend to be much easier to plan due to only two people being involved. The interview is much easier to control by the researcher in order to obtain any and all information that may be required in order to answer the research question. The interviewees were asked questions regarding the factors that influence their food choice and factors that have or that may influence weight loss. These were qualitatively analysed.

This chapter has adequately provided an in-depth overview of the methodology used in this study. The methodology consisted of both primary and secondary research. The chosen methods were used in order to establish a broad perspective on the subject. The secondary research that was undertaken in order to attain knowledge on the research topic was quite extensive. The primary research was conducted using a mixed method approach, combining both quantitative and qualitative research methods. The quantitative method used was the questionnaire while, the qualitative methods used were the focus group and semi-structured interviews. All findings and results obtained during primary data collection are presented in chapter four.

Chapter Four Findings and Results

4.1 Introduction

Chapter Four analysis the data and presents the findings and results. This chapter provides insight into the question, ‘Why people eat the food they do and why they choose to lose weight?’ The chapter is in two sections. Section One deals with the factors that influence food choice while, Section Two deals with the factors that inspire people to lose weight. Both quantitative and qualitative results are presented.

4.2 Objectives of the study

  1. To identify and highlight the key factors that influence food choice.
  2. To identify the key factors that inspire people to lose weight.
  3. To investigate if there is a correlation between the two.

4.3 Section One: The key factors that influence food choice (Qualitative Results Summary)

For the purpose of this study four semi-structured interviews were conducted and the results were qualitatively analysed. The interviews themselves were thoroughly read several times in order to identify trends. The most common trends that were identified were:

  • Cost
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Time
  • Distance
  • Health
  • Media/ Celebrities
  • Junk food

These factors were then placed into groups in order to be discussed and explained.

Social Group: Family and friends seemed to have played an important part in determining food choices. The food choices that are established while young and living at home, generally carry on into later life. Friends also contributed to food choice in college and in the workplace, with some respondents eating unhealthy due to the presence of a friend or colleague.

Cost: it was clear before starting this study that the cost of food would have an impact on food choice. Through these interviews it was discovered that the price of healthier foods compared to their cheaper less healthy counter parts is too much of a temptation for the participants to resist. Through analysis of the data it is clear that the participants would prefer to purchase healthy foods but do not purchase them as often due to their high price.

Convenience: analysis of the data showed a connection between time constraints and the use of convenience meals. Time constraints and location were key determinants as to why people choose convenience meals and fast food.

Media: Media was identified as a minor factor that can influence food choice. It was stated by the participants that certain celebrities, models and sports personnel acted as role models. The participants then claimed to make their food choices based on their aim to try and look like their role models, resulting in them purchasing healthier foods.

4.4 Section Two: Quantitative Results Summary

63 participants completed the following survey. The survey was filled out on paper and distributed to people in college, in the work place and throughout slimming clubs in the local area. This method gave a wider range of participants, rather than just focusing on those who use social media.

The responses were then manually inputted into Survey Monkey and the following information is an analysis on the data collected.

Gender

There was a much higher percentage of females to males completing the survey. Almost 3 times as many in fact. This may be due to the area’s the survey was supplied to, mainly the slimming club’s as they tend to have more female attendees

 Fig.1.1 gender percentage

 

 

 

 

 

Age

There was a wide variety of participant ages in this survey. The highest volume of participants ranged from 18-24. This was not a surprise as many surveys were distributed around the college campus.

There were zero responses from the 75years + age group. Once again not surprising as surveys were handed out in both the work place and college, both of which have a younger population.

Employment status

According to the survey results, the largest response pool came from those in full time employment, (38%), with the next highest being students at 33%. This is beneficial as it gives a wide range of perspective as the average student’s budget comes in lower than an individual in full time employment.

Quality standard of name brand vs. generic

A massive 75% of participants believe that there is a higher quality among name brand products when compared to generic branded goods.

Do you purchase generic brand products?

This figure was perhaps the most surprising of all. As seen in fig 1.4 (above) 75% of people believe that name brand goods are a higher quality. Yet in fig 1.5 (right) it is seen that 63% of people still buy generic food brands.

Influences on food choice

This question had a multiple choice option. Therefore, the percentages will add to more than 100%

As visible from the bar chart above, taste is the most important factor when buying food products, followed closely by price. Brand name is one of the least important factors when it came to the influences of food choice.

Do you purchase convenience meals?

As seen in fig 1.7 there is not a huge divide between those who purchase convenience meals and those who don’t. again, this figure is not surprising considering the number of students surveyed. Many student accommodations do not supply adequate cooking areas, leading to a larger demand for quick and easy meals.

Why do you purchase convenience meals?

The 43% who said they bought convenience meals were asked why they bought them. Out of the 27 participants, not even one chooses the taste as a reason for their purchase. Instead they said that the price and weight loss claims were their motivation behind the purchase.

Fig 1.8 reasons for buying convenience meals

Do you know what BMI is?

According to Fig 1.9, 90% of participants know what their BMI is. BMI is a measurement used to gauge if a person is overweight or not.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is your BMI?

According to the diagram on the right, 17% of people had a BMI of less than 18.5, this would class them as underweight.

6% of participants had a BMI of 30+, putting them in the overweight category.

The remaining percentage had BMI’s in the healthy

range or were unsure of what the BMI range was.

Influences on decision to lose weight.

Fig 1.11 Decision to lose weight.

According to the bar chart on the left, almost 90% of people claim that their decision to lose weight was to improve their own self-image, the next highest on the list is to improve their health. Influence from the media was the lowest option on the list, bar the other section.

 

 

 

 

 

Did you join any slimming clubs while losing weight?

The chart on the right shows that there was an almost even divide on participants who joined slimming clubs. This just goes to show that they remain to be as popular as ever to those who wish to lose weight through healthy eating.

What slimming club did you join?

Fig. 1.13 slimming clubs

This chart shows the rising popularity of the slimming club, Slimming World. Over 80% of participants who joined these clubs chose Slimming World over old favourites Weight Watchers and Unislim.

 

Did joining a slimming club change your food shopping habits?

Almost 91% of those who joined slimming clubs agreed that they changed their food shopping habits while taking part in this programme.

 

 

 

 

Were certain food groups eliminated while taking part in your slimming club?

Again, almost 91% of participants said that certain food groups were eliminated from their diets while taking part in their respective slimming clubs.

White breads, takeaways and sugary foods were the main groups eliminated.

Did joining a sliming club help you reach your weight loss goal?

Unfortunately for 47% of participants, they claim to have not met their weight loss goals. However, this still means that slimming clubs have over a 50% success rate at helping their clients reach their target.

 

Did you maintain the weight loss?

72% of participants claim that they have maintained their weight loss, even after finishing up with their slimming clubs.

Did the change in your food shopping habits have any effect on those around you?

61% of participants say that the change in their food shopping habits had an effect on those around them. For example, their friends and family had also started buying more healthy snacks rather than their usual sugary options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does the price difference between healthy and unhealthy snacks have an effect on your willingness to purchase them?

Almost 71% of participants say that the higher cost of healthy snacks is making the decision to purchase them over a cheaper unhealthy snack more difficult to justify.

Would you be willing to purchase healthy snacks more regularly if they were at a lower cost?

While 8% of participants claim that the cost does not affect their choice when choosing between a healthy and unhealthy snack, a huge 89% said that it would make a difference in their decision to buy healthy snacks more often.

4.5 Conclusion

Chapter four delivers a detailed analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data produced from the primary research and provides an analysis of these findings. This chapter presents an overview of the population sample and the factors that influence food choice and weight loss.

5.1 Introduction

This research study addressed the question; ‘Why people eat the food they do and what inspires them to lose weight?’

Chapter One provided the rational and the background for the research. Chapter Two provided an analysis of the literature on the topic. Chapter Three described the methodology used while Chapter Four presented the findings that were produced. This chapter discuss these findings. It provides conclusions, limitations, and the strengths of the research as well as any recommendations for any further research.

5.2 The Key Factors that Influence Food Choice

Several Key factors that influenced food choice were discovered during the research. These were then categorised.

Social Group: The category of social group is comprised of family and friends seemed to have played an important part in determining food choices. The food choices that are established while young and living at home, generally carry on into later life. Rozin (2006) states that when an individual is faced with a food choice he/she refers to his or her memories of any past encounters with their current choices and will choose the product that provides memories of enjoyment or pleasure Friends also contributed to food choice in college and in the workplace, with some respondents eating unhealthy due to the presence of a friend or colleague.

Cost: It was clear before starting this study that the cost of food would have an impact on food choice. Through these interviews it was discovered that the price of healthier foods compared to their cheaper less healthy counter parts is too much of a temptation for the participants to resist. Through analysis of the data it is clear that the participants would prefer to purchase healthy foods but do not purchase them as often due to their high price.

Convenience: Analysis of the data showed a connection between time constraints and the use of convenience meals. Time constraints and location were key determinants as to why people choose convenience meals and fast food.

Media: Media was identified as a minor factor that can influence food choice. It was stated by the participants that certain celebrities, models and sports personnel acted as role models. The participants then claimed to make their food choices based on their aim to try and look like their role models, resulting in them purchasing healthier foods.

5.3 The key factors that inspire people to lose weight

There were several factors that influence a person’s decision to lose weight, discovered during this research project. The most popular factor being to improve self-image at 89%, the second most common factor being to improve health with 29% of respondents claiming that as a factor. Celebrity role models scored quite high as a factor that influences people to lose weight with 27% of respondents stating this as a factor. 21% claimed advice from friends and family was a factor, 17% said that advice from a healthcare professional, and 14% stated social media was a factor influencing them to lose weight.

5.4 The Correlation between the factors that influence food choice and those that inspire weight loss.

Prior to the analysis of both the qualitative and quantitative data it was proven that the factors that influenced food choice were significantly different than those that inspire them to lose weight. The most influential factors to food choice were cost and social groups, whereas the most influential factors to weight loss were simple to improve self-image and celebrity role models. These findings have revealed that there is no correlation between the factors that influence food choice and the factors that inspire people to lose weight.

5.5 Conclusion

This dissertation answers the research question: Why people eat the food they do and what inspires them to lose weight? It provides an exploratory study of the key factors that influence food choice and weight loss. The several key factors that were discovered to influence food choice were then categorised into four categories: Social group, Convenience, Cost, and Media. The key findings were that food choice is influenced by: friends, family, peers and colleagues, cost of food, time constraints and role models.

The factors that inspire people to lose weight differed greatly. The main influencing factor behind the decision to lose weight was simply to improve self-image, followed by the aim of improving health. Unfortunately, as this study was quite small it is not possible to generalise any of the findings as a large enough sample of participants was not used.

A recommendation is suggested for further research would be to discover if any correlation exists between stress/ depression and the purchase and consumption of junk foods.



Recommendation
EssayHub’s Community of Professional Tutors & Editors
Tutoring Service, EssayHub
Professional Essay Writers for Hire
Essay Writing Service, EssayPro
Professional Custom
Professional Custom Essay Writing Services
In need of qualified essay help online or professional assistance with your research paper?
Browsing the web for a reliable custom writing service to give you a hand with college assignment?
Out of time and require quick and moreover effective support with your term paper or dissertation?