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The fake food buffet – a new method in nutrition behaviour research

  • T. Bucher (a1), K. van der Horst (a1) and M. Siegrist (a1)

Experimental research in behavioural nutrition is often limited by practical applicability. In the present study, we assess the reproducibility and validity of a new experimental method using food replicas. A total of fifty-seven people were invited on two separate occasions with an interval of 2 weeks to serve themselves a meal from a fake food buffet (FFB) containing replica carrots, beans, pasta and chicken. The external validity of the FFB was assessed in a second study by comparing meals served from replica foods (beans, pasta, chicken) with meals served from a corresponding real food buffet (RFB). For the second study, forty-eight participants were invited on two separate occasions; first to serve themselves a meal from the FFB or an RFB and 2 weeks later from the other buffet. The amounts of food items served and (theoretical) energy content were compared. Correlation coefficients between the amounts of fake foods served were 0·77 (95 % CI 0·68, 0·86) for chicken, 0·79 (95 % CI 0·68, 0·87) for carrots, 0·81 (95 % CI 0·69, 0·89) for beans and 0·89 (95 % CI 0·82, 0·93) for pasta. For the FFB meal and the RFB meal, the correlations ranged between 0·76 (95 % CI 0·73, 0·91) for chicken and 0·87 (95 % CI 0·77, 0·92) for beans. The theoretical energy of the fake meal was 132 kJ (32 kcal) lower compared to the energy of the real meal. Results suggest that the FFB can be a valuable tool for the experimental assessment of relative effects of environmental influences on portion sizes and food choice under well-controlled conditions.

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Corresponding author
*Corresponding author: T. Bucher, fax +41 44 632 10 29, email
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British Journal of Nutrition
  • ISSN: 0007-1145
  • EISSN: 1475-2662
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