Why people eat in a traditional or modern way: A cross-country study


On October 30th and 31st, Prof. Dr. Paul Rozin and Dr. Claude Fischler visited Konstanz and gave talks. On Tuesday, October 30th, Prof. Dr. Paul Rozin talked about 'The Modern Food World: Meat, Morality, Technology and Sustainability'. On Wednesday, October 31st, Dr. Claude Fischler talked about 'Why Nutrition is (should be) a Social Science'. The full presentations can be viewed via the following links:


Funding Period:
01/2017 - 11/2019
Project group
  • Dr. Gudrun Sproesser, University of Konstanz, Germany (PI)
  • Prof. Dr. Britta Renner, University of Konstanz, Germany
  • Prof. Dr. Paul Rozin, University of Pennsylvania, USA
  • Prof. Dr. Harald Schupp, University of Konstanz, Germany
  • Dr. Matthew Ruby, La Trobe University, Australia
  • Dr. Naomi Arbit, Columbia University, USA
Cooperation partner
  • Prof. Dr. Charity Sylvia Akotia, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana
  • Prof. Dr. Marle Alvarenga, University of Sao Paolo, Sao Paolo, Brazil
  • Prof. Dr. Sumio Imada, Hiroshima-Shudo University, Hiroshima, Japan
  • Prof. Dr. Usha Menon, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA
  • Dr. Claude Fischler, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Paris, France
  • Dr. Gulbanu Kaptan, Centre for Decision Research, Leeds University Business School, University of Leeds, UK
  • Dr. Martha Kaufer, Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Médicas y Nutrición Salvador Zubiran, Tlalpan, Mexico
  • Prof. Dr. Isato Furumitsu, Hiroshima-Shudo University, Hiroshima, Japan
  • Dr. Xiaomeng Hu, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China

Project description

Today, our modern eating patterns in the Western world are characterized by a high consumption of ultra-processed foods or eating out of home. In contrast, there are countries in which there are still more traditional eating patterns, such as local food consumption and family meals. However, countries across the world are experiencing a nutrition transition towards modern eating patterns. Without question, the modern food environment has brought advantages but coming to its extremes it has led to an increase in chronic diseases whereas traditional eating appears to be protective against these. Surprisingly, little research has asked the question why people eat in a traditional or modern way and this research is impeded by different conceptualizations of traditional and modern eating. Moreover, most studies focused only on single facets of traditional eating, single influencing factors, and single (Western) countries. However, thereby research on the question why people eat in a traditional or modern way is fragmented, study results are poorly comparable, and conclusions can only be drawn with caution.

The current project aims to fill in this gap by providing a comprehensive systematization and assessment of traditional and modern eating. Furthermore, taking a cross-country perspective, it aims to provide a comprehensive understanding which psychological factors underlie these eating patterns in countries that differ in the degree to which they have moved through the nutrition transition. Specifically, the current project asks the question which eating motives are associated with traditional and modern eating patterns. Thereby, it takes a comprehensive approach by investigating why countries differ in traditional eating as well as why individuals differ.

Ten countries were selected to be studied in the current project: Ghana, India, China, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, Brazil, France, Germany, and the USA. To answer the research questions, literature reviews, phone interviews with experts in eating culture, as well as online surveys with representative samples and nutrition experts will be performed in all ten countries. Moreover, face-to-face interviews will be conducted in the six middle-income countries. In sum, through the compilation of the different conceptualizations of traditional and modern eating, the current project will facilitate future research on this behavior as well as on its causes and consequences. Moreover, through the international approach, it will give a unique and comprehensive insight into psychological factors underlying traditional and modern eating behavior across a wide range of individuals and countries.