Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Understanding consumer acceptance of intervention strategies for healthy food choices: a qualitative study

Colin Bos1*, Ivo A Van der Lans1, Frank J Van Rijnsoever2 and Hans CM Van Trijp1

Author Affiliations

1 Marketing and Consumer Behaviour Group, Wageningen University, Hollandseweg 1, Wageningen 6706 KN, the Netherlands

2 Innovation Studies, Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Utrecht University, Heidelberglaan 2, Utrecht 3584 CS, the Netherlands

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:1073  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1073

Published: 13 November 2013



The increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity poses a major threat to public health. Intervention strategies for healthy food choices potentially reduce obesity rates. Reviews of the effectiveness of interventions, however, show mixed results. To maximise effectiveness, interventions need to be accepted by consumers. The aim of the present study is to explore consumer acceptance of intervention strategies for low-calorie food choices. Beliefs that are associated with consumer acceptance are identified.


Data was collected in the Netherlands in 8 semi-structured interviews and 4 focus group discussions (N = 39). Nine archetypical strategies representing educational, marketing and legal interventions served as reference points. Verbatim transcriptions were coded both inductively and deductively with the framework approach.


We found that three beliefs are related to consumer acceptance: 1) general beliefs regarding obesity, such as who is responsible for food choice; 2) the perceived effectiveness of interventions; and 3) the perceived fairness of interventions. Furthermore, the different aspects underlying these general and intervention-specific beliefs were identified.


General and intervention-specific beliefs are associated with consumer acceptance of interventions for low-calorie food choices. Policymakers in the food domain can use the findings to negotiate the development of interventions and to assess the feasibility of interventions. With respect to future research, we recommend that segments of consumers based on perceptions of intervention strategies are identified.

Public health; Consumer acceptance; Intervention strategies; Low-calorie; Food choice; Obesity prevention