Anxiety and Search during Food Choice: The Moderating Role of Attitude Towards Nutritional Claims

Torben Hansen, Thyra Uth Thomsen, Ashkesh Mukherjee

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose – This paper aims to investigate the effect of anxiety on information search during food choice and to test a key moderator of the effect of anxiety on search, namely attitude towards nutritional claims.
Design/methodology/approach – By means of qualitative study the paper investigates the notion that consumers experience anxiety about health outcomes during food choice. Further, by means of structural equation modelling based on two studies with representative samples of Danish consumers, the paper investigates the effects outlined above.
Findings – The authors show that anxiety during food choice increases information search in four product categories – ready dinner meals, salad dressing, biscuits, and cakes. Further, the results show that the positive effect of anxiety on information search is stronger when consumers have a less favourable attitude towards nutritional claims on the product label.
Practical implications – The results suggest that anxiety during food choice is desirable from the consumer welfare point of view since it leads to more informed consumers. The results also indicate that public policy makers should educate consumers to be critical about nutritional claims, since this would increase consumers' propensity to search for health information. In turn, from a managerial point of view this suggests that providers of healthy food should provide extended health information for consumers that are sceptical about nutritional claims since their scepticism towards this type of condensed information will in fact motivate extended information search.
Originality/value – This paper contributes to research in marketing on food choice and consumption: a consumption area that is important but difficult to navigate due to an increasing complexity of nutritional information at the point of sale. This paper demonstrates that situational, choice-based anxiety and scepticism towards nutritional claims may actually be good things by prompting consumers to undertake search, and hence ultimately make more informed choices.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Consumer Marketing
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)178-186
Publication statusPublished - 2011

Cite this