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Department of Nutritional Behaviour

The Department of Nutritional Behaviour explores everyday human actions related to nutrition, making consumers and their needs the focus of its investigations. Its research outcomes are used for policy guidance.

In the Department of Nutritional Behaviour, representatives of various social and natural sciences, such as home economics and nutritional sciences, sociology and public health, work together towards their goal of strengthening consumer competence and thus empowering consumers in the marketplace. The broad field of nutrition-related consumer research calls for diverse methodologies. In its research the department therefore uses quantitative as well as qualitative methods taken from the social sciences and epidemiology, and also conducts laboratory experiments.

The Department of Nutritional Behaviour addresses a number of focus areas: Within the focus area nutritional knowledge and attitudes consumers’ knowledge, skills and attitudes are explored and assessed with regard to need-based, healthy and sustainable nutrition. Since nutritional behaviour is not only determined by individual factors, within this focus area of nutritional behaviour the relevant settings are also analysed: the organisation of daily routines, infrastructure in terms of when and where consumers eat, as well as the general socio-economic context.

Another focus area is epidemiology oriented: the National Nutrition Survey (NVS) II and as a continuation of NVS II the National Nutrition Monitoring (NEMONIT), a longitudinal survey. The department is also in charge of maintaining, updating and developing the National Nutrient Database (BLS), which is used to evaluate the energy and nutrient intake of participants in food consumption studies.

Definition of Nutritional Behaviour

(based on the definitions proposed by Oltersdorf, 1984 and Leonhäuser et al., 2009):

“Nutritional behaviour is the sum of all planned, spontaneous or habitual actions by individuals or social groups to procure, prepare and consume food as well as those related to storage and clearance. In this context, the term ‘nutritional behaviour’ not only refers to influencing factors but also to health, environmental, social and economic implications along the entire product chain from farmer to consumer.”

  • Institut für Ernährungsverhalten: Ernährungsverhaltensforschung am Max Rubner-Institut. Unveröffentlichtes Arbeitspapier. Max Rubner-Institut - Bundesforschungsinstitut für Ernährung und Lebensmittel, Karlsruhe, 2010
  • Leonhäuser I-U, Meier-Gräwe U, Möser A, Zander U, Köhler J: Essalltag in Familien. Ernährungsversorgung zwischen privatem und öffentlichem Raum. VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften, Wiesbaden, 2009
  • Oltersdorf U: Methodische Probleme der Erfassung von Ernährungsverhalten. AID-Verbraucherdienst 29 (9), 187-197, 1984