Determinants of Food Consumption

Course content

The course has its focus on the different factors underlying consumers’ food behaviours. Centrally in the course are theories on determinants of food consumption, strategies to change behaviour, and social significance and meaning of food. Social, cultural, cognitive, developmental, psychophysiological and neuroeconomic approaches as well as theory of human action and of decision making processes are discussed.

Factors influencing food acceptance throughout life, the relationships between choice, consumption of foods and the sensory, psychological and physiological responses in the human body are presented and discussed. Food culture and eating habits, meal structures and meal patterns; the importance of food and meals in everyday life, social and cultural influences on food preferences, food acceptability and habits, and the role of health concerns in ordinary eating habits are also presented and discussed. Issues related to public health nutrition will also be presented.

The students will in groups work on a curriculum related topic, and hand in a project report towards the end of the course. The report will be a literature review.


MSc Programme in Food Innovation and Health

Learning outcome

The course aims at introducing students to key determinants of food consumption from different perspectives.


  • List the most important determinants that play a role in food consumption
  • Show overview of central social and cultural aspects of people’s relationship to food
  • Express knowledge about the meanings associated with food and meals
  • Describe social and cultural variations in people's relationship to food



  • Explain the coupling between sensory and physiological effects on food intake
  • Analyse and discuss formation of food preferences and habits and how these are related to social life, cultural meaning, sensation, perception, cognition, emotion and physiological process
  • Explain basic principles in public health nutrition
  • Design and reflect on solutions to handle scientific as well as everyday life problems in breaking food habits
  • Compare and explain how different scientific disciplines work with food consumption



  • Evaluate and critically review scientific work related to changes in food consumption
  • Collaborate in cross-disciplinary teams
  • Assess food and nutritional related issues in a social and cultural perspective
  • Critically asess study designs
  • Write scientifically in the form of a literature review

Lectures, exercises and project work, including also discussions of projects. Theoretical concepts are introduced in the lectures that will include highlights of research linked to the subjects presented. Students will work with problems within these concepts in the theoretical exercises and will learn to apply or reflect on the theories.

See Absalon for a list of course literature

Academic qualifications equivalent to a BSc degree is recommended.

Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
Peer feedback (Students give each other feedback)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment, During course
Oral examination, 20 minutes
The exam comprises two parts:
The project report in teams (25% of grade)
The individual oral exam in the course curriculum within pre-known topics (75% of grade). No preparation time and no aids allowed.
Both parts must be passed in order for the student to pass the course.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners
Criteria for exam assessment

See Learning Outcome

Single subject courses (day)

  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 52
  • Class Instruction
  • 10
  • Preparation
  • 78
  • Theory exercises
  • 20
  • Project work
  • 45
  • Exam
  • 1
  • English
  • 206