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Title: A risk benefit analysis of nutritional choice derived from Northern Ireland food consumers
Author: Windrum, Norma Elizabeth
ISNI:       0000 0001 3570 7426
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2007
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Consumers are now faced with more food choices 'than ever and are increasingly concerned with the risks associated with food and issues of healthy eating. This study investigated the consumer's risk benefit decisionmaking process, with respect to the' nutritional aspects of food choice. To achieve this aim, a four phase mixed methodological approach was adopted. The purpose of Phase One was to select three generic food produ~ts, with different perceived levels of nutritional quality, to be used as the basis of this research. In order to do this a survey approach was adopted to measure respondents' estimation and evaluation of risks and benefits associated with 18 generic foods. Twenty seven nutritional experts and 80 food consumers completed the survey. No significant differences were detected between expert and lay person estimations of risk and benefit. Subsequently, three of these foods (milk, bread and beefburgers) were selected to be used in Phase Two of the research. This phase utilised two focus groups and eight semistructured interviews to determine the most important nutritional attributes and levels associated with each of the foods. Using the attributes and levels selected a conjoint experiment was designed to be used in Phase Three of the research. The aim of this phase was to examine the nutritional trade-offs that occur during the consumers decision-making process. Information was also collected, during this phase, on consumer risk and benefit perception associated with four individual product profiles within each generic food group. Two hundred and seventy Northern Ireland food purchasers. participated in this phase of research. The theoretical mathematical model that was derived from the conjoint analysis experiment could be used to predict the consumer's intention to choose a range of products with a known nutritional profile. On examination of the relationship between risks and benefits at generic product level a strong inverse relationship was identified (,-2 -0.926), indicating that consumers tend to weigh up risks and benefits together when making a decision. In contrast, at specific product profile level a very weak inverse relationship was identified (-0.045 to -0.273) across all three foods, indicating that consumers tend to use a rational decision-making process at this stage, where risks and benefits are considered separately. The importance of risk and benefit perception in determining behavioural intention was also investigated using multiple linear regression analysis. Results implied that benefit perception forms. a more important component of the decision-making process, with its relative importance increasing as the overall impression of the generic product becomes more favourable.· This relationship was further substantiated in Phase Four of the research, which investigated the risk benefit decision-making process with a food marketed as a healthy alternative (spreads). The overall impression of the generic product also affected the decision. making strategy used, as the lJlore favourable the overall impression became, trade-offs became less explicit, and a more relaxed decision making strategy was used. Socio-demographic and dietary factors as well as the characteristics of the risk were found to have no impact. It is concluded that the risk benefit decision-making process associated with the nutritional components of food is influenced by a unique mix of information and events to which the individual is subjected to over a long period of time. This is expressed as their 'nutritional echo'.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available