Impact of dining hall structural changes on food choices: a pre-post observational study

Julia Carins*, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Rimante Ronto

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    3 Citations (Scopus)
    21 Downloads (Pure)


    Change that benefits individuals and organisations while delivering health outcomes and benefits society requires a research focus that extends ‘beyond the individual’ to environment shapers. A pre-post observational study assessed two food provision structural changes to understand the role food service environments had on food selections. Diners were observed prior to (lunch n = 1294; dinner n = 787) and following (lunch n = 1230; dinner n = 843) structural changes in a buffet-style dining room—including provision of a healthy convenient meal alternative for lunch (healthy lunch bag), and a pleasurable dinner (make-your-own pizza). Food choices shifted with 19% of diners opting for a healthy lunch bag and 29% of diners selecting a pizza dinner, moving away from the existing buffet. Examination of selections by those continuing to select from the concurrent buffet selections established that the availability of healthy alternatives in the buffet partially explained food choices, moderating any observed changes in food selections. The food service sector is a promising avenue through which dietary behaviours can be improved. Further studies, particularly those that measure selections over the longer term, and that include measures of satisfaction and profit, are needed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number913
    Pages (from-to)1-15
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2020

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright the Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


    • Food choice
    • Food environment
    • Observation
    • Structural change


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