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Nutrition Science: Food Choice and Behaviour

Gain valuable insights into eating as a behaviour and the impacts this has on health, the environment, and the economy.

A group sit at a large, dark brown table with dozens of plates of food. They help themselves.

Delve into the impacts of food choice

The food choices we make with every meal goes far beyond our own survival and comfort. Understanding the widespread impacts of our food choices is one of the first steps in addressing social and environmental issues.

On this four-week course, you’ll use evidence-based information to assess the impact of food choices on health, the environment, and the economy, and what we can do to mitigate these impacts.

With this knowledge, you’ll be able to unpack the psychology of food choice to gain a deeper understanding of eating behaviour and how to unlock behaviour change for healthier habits.

You’ll examine the important relationship between diet and health, and gain a theoretical and applied insight into factors that influence eating behaviour.

To deepen your understanding, you’ll also explore how the psychology of food choice applies to consumer behaviour. This will help you reflect on the role of the food and beverage sector on health, as well as environmental and economical issues.

Learn from the experts at Rowett Institute and the University of Aberdeen

By the end of this course from the University of Aberdeen, you’ll be able to describe key factors that influence food choice and eating behaviour.

Learning from the experts at the Rowett Institute, a market leader in online education in nutrition and health, you’ll finish the course with an in-depth understanding of the far-reaching impacts of food choice.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 0 seconds ALEX JOHNSTON: Hello I’m Professor Alex Johnston, the lead educator on the Food Choice and Behaviour course on FutureLearn. I’m a nutrition researcher at the Rowett Institute part of the University of Aberdeen. So in this four-week course, we look at why we choose the foods that we eat and how the choices that we make impact on, not only our health, but the environment and the economy. We will explore the role of the food sector in this relationship between diet and health. We will identify key factors which influence food choice and eating Behaviour, and of course, investigate the psychology behind our behaviours.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds By the end of the course, you should have an appreciation of how this theory can be applied to alter consumer Behaviour, and reflect on how as a society, we can move towards eating more healthily and sustainably. Additionally, we aim to help you to develop your evidence-based skills to be able to evaluate a wide range of research. Now, this course is open to all, but may be particularly appealing to those in the food sector seeking to improve their knowledge on consumer behaviours. We have input from experts in the field, both here at our institute and beyond, to hear about the latest research and views from the food industry through videos, podcasts, and case studies.

Skip to 1 minute and 36 seconds The course is delivered completely online so that you can progress at your own pace. But we do have lots of discussions where participants can share their views, and support each other along the way. So I very much look forward to welcome you to join us on this course.

Syllabus

  • Week 1

    The impacts of eating behaviour

    • Welcome to the course

      Welcome to week 1! In this week you will be introduced to the topic of eating behaviour. You will also have the opportunity to introduce yourself to the other learners on the course.

    • How do we measure and monitor food choices?

      Our lead educator, Prof. Alex Johnstone introduces the relationship between key components of diet and health and disease. To research this we need to measure and monitor eating behaviour: what are the tools we can use for this?

    • Impact of food choice on health and environment

      Food choice can be considered as a behaviour - "things we do" - and as such can be amenable to change. We know that it can impact on our health, but increasingly we need to also consider the impact on the environment.

    • Economics of food choice

      Introducing some basic economic concepts, and how these are related to food choice. How can food choice be influenced by retail and other food sectors.

    • End of the week summary

      This activity was developed to summarise the content of this week and reflect on what you have learnt so far. Join the discussion to share your views!

  • Week 2

    Psychology of food choice

    • Welcome to week 2

      Primarily we eat to survive, but there are many influences on our food choice, both nutritional and non-nutritional. Professor Alex Johnstone explains further.

    • What controls our appetite?

      We eat to satisfy our energy needs, but most of us also enjoy our food! We focus in on the complexities of the appetite system.

    • Socioeconomic factors

      We have heard some of the competing influences on our food choice behaviour. We now turn our attention to the social, environment and economic factors that play a part.

    • Consumer behaviours

      Using 'Big Data' to track eating behaviours, and the lowdown on snacks.

    • End of the week summary

      We finish the week with a quiz on what we have learnt this week.

  • Week 3

    Determinants of eating

    • Welcome to week 3

      Welcome to week 3. We are exposed constantly to cues to eat. How do we respond to these? The theory of the competing systems at play are considered in detail.

    • Dual process model of eating

      We are exposed constantly to cues to eat. How do we respond to these? The theory of the competing systems at play are considered in detail.

    • Is it all in my head?

      In this section, researchers discuss their work on appetite and satiety with reference to liking versus wanting food, and portion control.

    • End of the week summary

      This week we learnt more on the psychology of food choice. Please join our discussion and share your views with the other learners on the course.

  • Week 4

    Behaviour change: from theory to evidence

    • Welcome to week 4

      Welcome to the final week. Now that you have the theoretical background we will look into translating it into practice.

    • Changing consumer behaviour

      Building on our knowledge, we look in more practical terms at behavioural change interventions. How can food manufacturers help consumers make better food choices.

    • How to translate evidence into practice?

      Getting the message out. Looking at real-life examples to illustrate how evidence from research is translated into advice. We also look more widely at the move to incorporate sustainability into food choice behaviours.

    • End of the week summary

      As we come to the end of the course, join in our discussion on your experience of reformulated foods.

    • End of the course video

      We hope you enjoyed the learning experience and will be able to apply some of the discussed concepts and principles in your life or professional career!

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Identify the relationship between diet and health and the role of the food sector within this complex system
  • Explain how to use evidence-based information to assess the impact of food choice on health, environment, and economy
  • Describe key factors that influence food choice and eating behaviour
  • Discuss the psychology of eating behaviour and how this is applies to consumer behaviour.
  • Reflect on learning to discuss a relevant food/beverage example in the food sector, on how an individual food choice or companies food strategy can impact on health, environment, or economy to improve health and reduce risk of a non-communicable disease.

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in food and eating as a form of behaviour.

It will provide an opportunity for professional development within the food sector and to get up to speed with the latest industry knowledge.

If you want to increase your understanding further, you may be interested in these courses from the same provider. They share similar subject matter and the same overall learning outcomes:

Who will you learn with?

I lead a Research Team as a Nutrition Scientist based at the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen. I am interested in appetite across the life course. I am also a UK Registered Nutritionist.

I am a teaching fellow at the Rowett Institute. My latest scientific interests encompass the sustainability of the human diet, the effect of plant protein on metabolic health and the environment.

Who developed the course?

University of Aberdeen

University of Aberdeen is the 3rd oldest Scottish and 5th oldest UK University. With 14500 students from 120 countries, it is a world leader in medical research, energy, environment, law and business.

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