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Designing dietary interventions: a reappraisal of the demographic and socio-economic determinants of dietary choice in the UK

By C. S. Srinivasan


The facilitation of healthier dietary choices by consumers is one of the key elements of the UK Government’s food strategy. Designing and targeting dietary interventions requires a clear understanding of the determinants of dietary choice. Conventional analysis of the determinants of dietary choice has focused on mean response functions which may mask significant differences in the dietary behaviour of different segments of the population. In this paper we use a quantile regression approach to investigate how food consumption behaviour varies amongst UK households in different segments of the population, especially in the upper and lower quantiles characterised by healthy or unhealthy consumption patterns. We find that the effect of demographic determinants of dietary choice on households that exhibit less healthy consumption patterns differs significantly from that on households that make healthier consumption choices. A more nuanced understanding of the differences in the behavioural responses of households making less-healthy eating choices provides useful insights for the design and targeting of measures to promote healthier diets

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