Why we eat what we eat: Motives, social context and economic impact

(funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, BMBF)

The general aim of the interdisciplinary research project “EATMOTIVE” is to study the interplay of key facets of incentive motivation for “normal eating behavior” and food choice in important life domains and to provide an economic evaluation of public health programs.
A particular strength of this project is its interdisciplinary perspective enabling the examination of the structure and dynamics of why people eat and why they eat what they eat from the perspective of health psychology, neuroscience, work and organizational psychology, sports science and economics.

The project EATMOTIVE involves 6 work packages. Work package (WP) 1 explores how different incentive motive schemes affect eating behavior, while WP 2 attempts to determine their neural underpinning. WP 3 takes an innovative approach to relate motives and self-regulatory strength to various push and pull factors of eating behavior and food choice. WP 4 promises to yield important and new insights on which stressors act as primary push factors and barriers to normal eating behavior and how the negative side effects of work stressors can be tackled by means of a positive organizational health climate. WP 5 takes a comprehensive view on the implementation of community prevention programs considering individual and community variables. WP 6 provides for the first time an economic cost-benefit analysis of health insurance programs.

The interdisciplinary project EATMOTIVE enables an innovative and refined perspective on the interplay of key facets of incentive motivation for "normal eating". By generating new insights on the regulation of normal eating and physical activity, a fundamental contribution is made to the prevention of major risk factors (e.g., overweight) and diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes) at the individual, workplace, and community level. Furthermore, the better understanding of the underlying push and pull factors of normal eating and physical activity has the great potential to be incorporated in health promotion programs (e.g., by health insurers, municipalities, work places) providing the inoculation against unhealthy push factors. The more specific tailoring of short- and midterm interventions to reduce health risk factors has the potential to reduce treatment costs in the long run.

Involved research groups:
Prof. Dr. Britta Renner (coordination), Department of Psychology, Psychological Assessment and Health Psychology, University of Konstanz
Prof. Dr. Friedrich Breyer, Department of Economics, Economic and Social Policy, University of Konstanz
Prof. Dr. Harald Schupp, Department of Psychology, General and Biological Psychology, University of Konstanz
Prof. Dr. Sabine Sonnentag, Department of Psychology, Work and Organizational Psychology, University of Mannheim
Prof. Dr. Alexander Woll, Department of Sports Science, Sports Science, University of Konstanz