A picture's worth a thousand words: a food-selection observational method
MetadataShow full item record
Issue addressed: Methods are needed to accurately measure and describe behaviour so that social marketers and other behaviour change researchers can gain consumer insights before designing behaviour change strategies and so, in time, they can measure the impact of strategies or interventions when implemented. This paper describes a photographic method developed to meet these needs. Methods: Direct observation and photographic methods were developed and used to capture food-selection behaviour and examine those selections according to their healthfulness. Four meals (two lunches and two dinners) were observed at a workplace buffet-style cafeteria over a 1-week period. The healthfulness of individual meals was assessed using a classification scheme developed for the present study and based on the Australian Dietary Guidelines. Results: Approximately 27% of meals (n = 168) were photographed. Agreement was high between raters classifying dishes using the scheme, as well as between researchers when coding photographs. The subset of photographs was representative of patterns observed in the entire dining room. Diners chose main dishes in line with the proportions presented, but in opposition to the proportions presented for side dishes. Conclusions: The present study developed a rigorous observational method to investigate food choice behaviour. The comprehensive food classification scheme produced consistent classifications of foods. The photographic data collection method was found to be robust and accurate. Combining the two observation methods allows researchers and/or practitioners to accurately measure and interpret food selections. Consumer insights gained suggest that, in this setting, increasing the availability of green (healthful) offerings for main dishes would assist in improving healthfulness, whereas other strategies (e.g. promotion) may be needed for side dishes. So what?: Visual observation methods that accurately measure and interpret food-selection behaviour provide both insight for those developing healthy eating interventions and a means to evaluate the effect of implemented interventions on food selection.
Health Promotion Journal of Australia
Public Health and Health Services not elsewhere classified