Scoping Study on Attitudes and Behaviours Towards Food

Funded by: Food Standards Agency


May 2009 to July 2009

PSI researchers:

Background, summary and aims

Background, Scope and Aims

The Social Science Research Unit (SSRU) at the Food Standards Agency (FSA) wishes to commission research to examine the topic coverage of current survey sources with regard to attitudes and behaviours toward healthy eating and food safety.

The research will review and consider existing sources of mainly quantitative (though not exclusively) survey data. It will focus on the data items currently available that shed light on attitudes and behaviour toward healthy eating and food safety. Moreover, it will consider what can be learnt from these data, what data collection exercises are planned and where the gaps lie in relation to the Agency’s requirements and objectives.

Project Design

The study has two main objectives. First, to produce a data base, or data catalogue, that maps the content of existing data sources as they relate to attitudes and behaviours toward healthy eating and food safety. Second, to draft a discussion paper which will explore factors that shape attitudes and behaviour, consider what can be learnt from existing sources, where the gaps are and what analyses of current data sets might add value to the Agency’s research effort.

Importance of Research

The Agency is concerned about the quality and coverage of existing survey data sources upon which it relies for evidence. Since 2000, the main source of social science data for the Agency has been the Consumer Attitude Survey (CAS). The CAS has been subject to review and will now be replaced by a new annual food survey. The discontinuation of CAS was prompted in part by its use of non-probability quota sampling methods but also a concern for survey question wording and placement.

This current project aims to inform the development of this new survey. Specifically to ensure that the new survey’s topic coverage allows full analysis of attitudes and behaviours, and that a set of questions are developed that will yield reliable measures.