Incorporating factors external to food into nutrition advice and weight management programs can help health professionals improve American eating behaviors. Twelve focus groups were conducted with a demographically representative sample to understand why the participants ate. Questions focused on (1) definitions and triggers of consumption occasions, (2) desired outcomes of each consumption occasion, and (3) emotional involvement surrounding each consumption occasion. Major themes emerged from the discussions, which included the differences between snacks and treats, the emotional and physical involvement of various eating occasions, the necessity or unimportance of hunger throughout eating experiences, and the positive and adverse influences of others during mealtimes, snacks, and treats. Because each individual, society, and population group is different and has unique dietary influences, understanding nuances becomes increasingly necessary to develop effective strategies and tailor advice.
Rachel Paul, MS, RD, CDN, is a researcher in the Department of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University, New York, and is an expert in behavioral nutrition and nutrition education.
Marianne Smith Edge, MS, RD, LD, FADA, is founder/ principal of The AgriNutrition Edge, and worked for the International Food Information Council Foundation at the time of publication.
Marcia Greenblum, MS, RDN, is senior director of Health and Wellness Communications, worked for the International Food Information Council Foundation at the time of publication.
Brian O'Meara, MS, is the owner of Motivation Insights, the contracted company for this research project.
This research was commissioned and funded by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation and conducted by Motivation Insights of Bloomington, Minnesota. The first author, Rachel Paul, received compensation from the IFIC Foundation for developing the manuscript. Coauthors Marianne Smith Edge and Marcia Greenblum were full-time employees of the IFIC Foundation during the development of the article. Brian O’Meara had received funding from the IFIC Foundation in the past. The IFIC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit public education organization that is primarily supported by the broad-based food, beverage, and agricultural industries and receives a variety of government grants. More details about the IFIC Foundation can be found at www.foodinsight.org/pages/faqs.
Correspondence: Rachel Paul, MS, RD, CDN, Columbia University, 722W 168th St, New York, NY 10032 (firstname.lastname@example.org).