Dietary behavior: An interdisciplinary conceptual analysis and taxonomy

F. Marijn Stok* (Corresponding Author), Britta Renner (Corresponding Author), Julia Allan, Heiner Boeing, Regina Ensenauer, Sylvie Issanchou, Eva Kiesswetter, Nanna Lien, Mario Mazzocchi, Pablo Monsivais, Marta Stelmach-Mardas, Dorothee Volkert, Stefan Hoffmann

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Dietary behavior encompasses many aspects, terms for which are used inconsistently across different disciplines and research traditions. This hampers communication and comparison across disciplines and impedes the development of a cumulative science. We describe the conceptual analysis of the fuzzy umbrella concept "dietary behavior" and present the development of an interdisciplinary taxonomy of dietary behavior. Methods: A four-phase multi-method approach was employed. Input was provided by 76 scholars involved in an international research project focusing on the determinants of dietary behavior. Input was collected from the scholars via an online mind mapping procedure. After structuring, condensing, and categorizing this input into a compact taxonomy, the result was presented to all scholars, discussed extensively, and adapted. A second revision round was then conducted among a core working group. Results: A total of 145 distinct entries were made in the original mind mapping procedure. The subsequent steps allowed us to reduce and condense the taxonomy into a final product consisting of 34 terms organized into three main categories: Food Choice, Eating Behavior, and Dietary Intake/Nutrition. In a live discussion session attended by 50 of the scholars involved in the development of the taxonomy, it was judged to adequately reflect their input and to be a valid and useful starting point for interdisciplinary understanding and collaboration. Conclusion: The current taxonomy can be used as a tool to facilitate understanding and cooperation between different disciplines investigating dietary behavior, which may contribute to a more successful approach to tackling the complex public health challenges faced by the field. The taxonomy need not be viewed as a final product, but can continue to grow in depth and width as additional experts provide their input.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1689
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sept 2018

Bibliographical note

The preparation of this paper was supported by the DEterminants of DIet and Physical ACtivity (DEDIPAC) knowledge hub. This work was supported by the Joint Programming Initiative “Healthy Diet for a Healthy Life.” The funding agencies supporting this work are (in alphabetical order of participating Member State): France: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA); Germany: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF); Italy: Ministry of Education, University and Research/Ministry of Agriculture Food and Forestry Policies; Norway: The Research Council of Norway, Division for Society and Health; and The United Kingdom: The Medical Research Council (MRC).


  • Cumulative science
  • Diet
  • Dietary intake
  • Eating behavior
  • Food choice
  • Nutrition
  • Ontology
  • Taxonomy


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