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Abstract

Poor diets and rising obesity rates among Americans have persisted despite increased awareness and publicity regarding the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. This analysis of consumer food choice developed a consumer demand model to illustrate how both long-term health objectives and immediate visceral influences—long intervals between meals and away-from-home eating—can affect individuals’ food choices. The model predicts that dietary knowledge will have less influence on food choices in the face of immediate visceral factors. The model predictions were tested using data from the 1994-96 Continuing Survey of Food Intake by Individuals and the companion Diet Health and Knowledge Survey. Longer intervals between meals and consumption of more food away from home both contribute to one’s consuming more calories and more calories from solid fats, alcohol, and added sugars. Longer intervals between meals are also associated with lower diet quality.

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