Food Choices, Food Security, and Food Policy

Carolyn Dimitri
Stephanie Rogus
September 28, 2014

Economics, nutrition, and public health literature includes much research on the factors that influence food choices and attempts to understand the factors contributing to low food security. Economic factors, such as prices and income, influence food choices and food security, as do access and availability of food. Yet recent literature indicates that behavioral factors—such as the physical environment and marketing strategies, including package size and product placement—have equal importance. The policies currently in place are only partially effective in terms of changing diet and enhancing food security, particularly for low-income consumers. We argue that, while increasing access to food through monetary transfers and enhanced food availability is important and essential, on their own these instruments are inadequate to reduce food insecurity. Policies must begin to address the third crucial element: the behavioral factors that influence our food choices.