Determinants of food choice

Choice of food is not just determined by individual knowledge about what constitutes a healthy diet, food choice also depends on:

  • how much money households have to allocate to food
  • what food commodities are readily available in local shops
  • how much food costs in local shops. (1)

For many households, food is the only flexible budget item, and when money is in short supply, food expenditure is reduced to meet other bills. (1)

Many low-income households live in places where local shopping facilities and transport networks are limited or difficult to access, and where prices of foods recommended for health may be higher in smaller but more accessible local shops.  (1)

ABS and GIS data can be used to establish a baseline understanding of the local situation. This can then support or direct healthy eating planning and policy. The measure of Food accessibility and Food deserts approaches outlined following can provide useful information for healthy eating planning and policy.



  1. Dowler, E., Donkin, A., Grundy, C., Rex, D. 2001, Measuring Access to Healthy Food in Sandwell, Final Report, Summary [Online] available at: