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Title: Fat in food : consumer beliefs and perceptions
Author: Miller, Anne Margaret
Awarding Body: University of Surrey
Current Institution: University of Surrey
Date of Award: 1988
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The research has explored consumers' sensory perceptions of fat in food; and home-makers' beliefs about fat in food in the context of food choice. Current nutritional advice to reduce fat consumption to an eventual 30% of energy intake [COMA 1984] represents a proposal for significant alteration in food behaviour. In this context the ways in which consumers think about and perceive fat in food were specifically investigated, to provide a better understanding of factors which determine its high level of consumption in the British diet. A limited number of issues which transcended disciplinary boundaries were investigated, to provide a realistic account of consumer decision making in relation to fat in the diet. An explanatory model has been proposed. The importance of the taste and perception of fat in food were investigated through a series of sensory evaluation trials. These explored consumers' ability to perceive differences in invisible fat content among samples of common meat products. A further study, based on fifty in-depth interviews and a subsequent questionnaire survey, explored belief and values in relation to fat in food, amongst home-makers in the Borough of Guildford. In general, consumers were not interested in the fat content of foods, but were interested in the relative palatability or taste of foods containing varying levels of fat. Some findings on the nature of food choice in relation to fat confirm those previously reported in respect of: women's concepts of health [Calnan 1986, Pill and Stott 1985]; nutritional awareness and knowledge; concern with weight gain; some beliefs about the health value of some foods; [BNF 1985; Woodward 1974; Fallows 1985; Amos 1986; Hunt et al 1987]. The original findings presented in the explanatory model show the relative importance of the following frames of reference: 'health', 'price', 'status', 'preference', and 'convenience' for food choice in relation to fat. 'Price' , 'health' and 'preference' were the most significant in relation to beliefs about food in this context. The concepts of 'health' used by women in this context were 'avoiding CHD' , 'avoiding obesity' and 'staying well'. Tentative findings show the proportion of respondents who used each concept of health and described behaviours perceived to promote health in terms of diet. It is concluded that the findings provide an understanding of the nature of food choice in relation to fat. The proposed explanatory model might successfully inform strategies in health education designed to facilitate the significant dietary change recommended in respect of fat.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available