Determinants of eating behavior across the lifespan, relationship with health


S. Chambaron, S. Issanchou, S. Monnery Patris, C. Schwartz, C. Sulmont Rossé.

Enginneers and technicians

C. Chabanet, N. Dumont, V. Feyen, A. Roger, E. Szleper.

PhD students

S. De Rosso, S. Fleury, M. Mas, J. Melendrez Ruiz, K. Philippe, D. Poquet.


I. Zsoldos.

The group gathers a large range of expertise: eating behaviour, sensory evaluation, developmental and cognitive psychology, ethology, nutrition and statistics.
Despite different public policies aiming at nutritional prevention of health, eating behaviour still leads, for many consumers, to diets quite apart from the recommendations. In this context, it is important to understand better how eating behaviours are formed in the early years of life, how they evolve along the life course, and how they are associated to malnutrition in the elderly. This knowledge could help to identify potential levers of eating behaviour modification towards a healthier diet while maintaining the pleasure to eat.

Key words : infants, children, elderly people, sensory perception, learning, feeding practices, overweight, malnutrition.

Thematic : We study sensory and cognitive determinants of eating behaviour (preferences, choices, intake), their development during childhood and their dynamics along the life course.

Research group in detail Open all the tabs

Our aim is to understand better the determinants of eating behaviours taking into account sensory characteristics and nutritional properties of foods, and also the previous experiences, the psychological and cognitive characteristics of individuals.

Theme 1 : Early development of food preferences and eating behaviours

  • - Relative effect of different factors that could explain food preferences and eating behaviours during early childhood on the basis of cohort data and statistical modelling approaches.
  • - Relative efficiency of different learning mechanisms evaluated thanks to interventional studies.
  • - Role of exposure on attraction to sweet foods and brain responses to sweet solutions.
  • - Evolution of the control of food intake in infancy and early childhood: effect of maternal feeding practices.
  • - Role of feeding practices, sensory reactivity and experiences on likes and dislikes and on neophobic behaviours.

Theme 2 : Role of perceptive and cognitive mechanisms on food preferences and eating behaviours

  • - Role of the sensory characteristics
  • - Role of implicit mechanisms (priming)
  • - Effect of context and information

Theme 3 : Effect of eating behaviour on the nutritional status of elderly individuals

  • - Characterization of the variability of preferences and food practices within the elderly population
  • - Role of the sensory, psychological, and social factors on the decrease of appetite
  • - Development of foods adapted to the chemosensory and oral capacities of elderly people

Sensory evaluation

- Hedonic measurements for different foods or sensory stimuli
- Qualitative approaches (in-depth interviews, focus groups) and quantitatives approaches (questionnaires)
- Psychophysics: measurements of gustatory and olfactory sensitivities


Behavioural measurements: in usual contexts of consumption (at home, in nurseries, in school canteens, in nursing homes, …) or in the lab.


Experimental psychology tests: association tasks, categorizations tasks, ranking, priming paradigms…


Measurements of brain activations in response to visual or gustatory stimuli by electroencephalography or by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).


Statistical modelling of preferences or behaviours

Human model

Our research aims at studying human eating behaviour all along the life course, with a specific focus on childhood (infant, toddler and children) and on the ageing population (living at home or in nursing homes).

Edulia project : Marie Sklodowska- Curie grant agreement No 764985

Edulia responds to the urgent need of EU society to promote healthier eating from childhood. Based on the relations of sensory perception, pleasure, food choice and food behaviour, the project will look for new approaches to drive children to like and actively choose healthy foods, developing healthier habits. Two PhD students are involved in this project: Kaat Philippe studies the links between feeding parental practices and young children's eating behaviours and Sofia de Rosso studies the effect on parental feeding behaviors of disseminating recommendations on good practices for establishing healthy eating habits from an early age.

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IMPLICEAT project : Project-ANR-17-CE21-0001

The main scientific objective of IMPLICEAT is to better understand food choice decision mechanisms in normal weight, overweight and obese adults. The central hypothesis is that people cognition and eating behaviour, in particular food choices, are not only influenced by conscious perception of cues but also by non-conscious/non-attentive exposure to these cues. IMPLICEAT provides unique opportunities, at a technical level (1) to develop innovative methodologies both at the behavioral level as in neuroscience; at a societal level (2) to disseminate, towards public authorities, substantial findings based on implicit approaches, adaptable in different socio economic contexts, in order to highlight links between food choice, health and implicit cognition

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Opaline project : Observatory of Food Preferences in Infants and Children

Explain how food liking for different food categories emerges up to the age of 2 years, taking into account peri- and post-natal feeding experiences, child acceptance of various tastes and odours, and parental feeding practices.

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Habeat project

Compare different strategies for promoting a novel vegetable acceptance and study factors associated to children’s ability to control their food intake in challenging situations in which they may overeat..

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Sofi project

Study socio-cultural determinants of parental feeding practices during childhood based on data from several birth cohorts (Elfe, EDEN et OPALINE ).

Find out more on the Elfe study      Find out more on the OPALINE study

Punch project

Understand better the determinants of infant and children’s eating behavior, by taking into account sociological, psychological, experiential, and sensory factors and evaluate the effectiveness of innovative levers of actions in order to modify school-aged children’s eating behaviour, exploring tracks suggested by cognitive psychology, behavior science, economics and marketing.

Aupalesens project

Study the effect of sensory factors on food intake of elderly people in order to tackle malnutrition.

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Renessens project

Develop solutions to adapt food offer to needs, expectations, liking and appetite of elderly individuals in a situation of culinary dependence.

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Alimasens project

Develop and propose foods adapted to the chewing difficulties experienced by elderly people while combining eating pleasure, eating comfort and nutritional efficacy.

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Projet Qualiment PATATE

Physiologie orale et Acceptabilité de la Texture de l'AlimenT chez le jeune Enfant.

Maier-Nöth, A., Schaal, B., Leathwood, P., & Issanchou, S. (2016). The lasting influences of early food-related variety experience: A longitudinal study of vegetable acceptance from 5 months to 6 years in two populations. PloS one, 11, e0151356.

Monnery-Patris, S., Marty, L., Bayer, F., Nicklaus, S., & Chambaron, S. (2016). Explicit and implicit tasks for assessing hedonic-versus nutrition-based attitudes towards food in French children. Appetite, 96, 580-587.

Chambaron, S., Chisin, Q., Chabanet, C., Issanchou, S., & Brand, G. (2015). Impact of olfactory and auditory priming on the attraction towards foods with high energy density. Appetite, 95, 74-80.

Divert, C., Laghmaoui, R., Crema, C., Issanchou, S., Van Wymelbeke, V., & Sulmont-Rossé, C. (2015). Improving meal context in nursing homes. Impact of four strategies on food intake and meal pleasure. Appetite, 84, 139-147.

Lange, C., Combris, P., Issanchou, S., & Schlich, P. (2015). Impact of information and in-home sensory exposure on liking and willingness to pay: the beginning of Fairtrade labeled coffee in France. Food Research International, 76, 317-324.

Monnery-Patris, S., Wagner, S., Rigal, N., Schwartz, C., Chabanet, C., Issanchou, S., & Nicklaus, S. (2015). Smell differential reactivity, but not taste differential reactivity, is related to food neophobia in toddlers. Appetite, 95, 303-309.

Remy, E., Issanchou, S., Chabanet, C., Boggio, V., & Nicklaus, S. (2015). Impact of adiposity, age, sex and maternal feeding practices on eating in the absence of hunger and caloric compensation in preschool children. International Journal of Obesity, 39, 925-930.

Sulmont-Rossé, C., Maître, I., Amand, M., Symoneaux, R., Van Wymelbeke, V., Caumon, E., Tavarès, J., & Issanchou, S. (2015). Evidence for different patterns of chemosensory alterations in the elderly population: impact of age versus dependency. Chemical Senses, 40, 153-164.

Maitre, I., Van Wymelbeke, V., Amand, M., Vigneau, E., Issanchou, S., & Sulmont-Rossé, C. (2014). Food pickiness in the elderly: Relationship with dependency and malnutrition. Food Quality and Preference, 32, 145-151.

Remy, E., Divert, C., Rousselot, J., Brondel, L., Issanchou, S., & Nicklaus, S. (2014). Impact of energy density on liking for sweet beverages and caloric-adjustment conditioning in children. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 100, 1052-1058.

  • ANR
  • Conseil Régional de Bourgogne
  • Europe
  • Qualiment
  • Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur et de The research