Research report

Consumer attitudes towards the diet and food environment in Scotland research report

2 documents for this subject


We identified a need to obtain up-to-date evidence on attitudes about diet, health and the food environment from people living across Scotland. This research will inform policy and consumer messaging around a healthy diet.

A quantitative online survey to assess consumer attitudes towards the diet and food environment in Scotland was carried out by JRS, an independent research consortium.  They surveyed over 1,500 adults aged 16+ with an additional boost to the sample of 250 parents with children under 16 living at home.

This is our second attitudinal survey, the first was published in 2015.

Access our first attitudinal survey from 2015.

Summary of findings

Cost of Living

  • Nearly two thirds of people in Scotland expressed concern about their household finances, increasing to just under three quarters when looking at the year ahead.
  • Numerous aspects of people’s lives have been negatively affected, and many have adapted their behaviours to minimise spend, with consumers changing shopping, cooking and eating behaviours to save money.
  • These adaptations have included around half going without (or considering going without), essential food items or skipping meals.
  • A healthy diet has become less of a priority due to the cost of living situation, with around a third saying their diet was less healthy.
  • Food insecurity is a real concern with over a third of respondents worried about affording food in the next month.

Eating out of home (or ordering in)

  • Whilst many have reduced frequency of eating out, those in younger age groups reported eating out most often with a quarter eating out once a week or more.
  • Whilst around half say it is not difficult to find healthy choices when eating out, it is more difficult with takeaways and delivered food.
  • Nearly three quarters of adults agreed that children’s menus should be healthier.
  • More than half of adults in Scotland use apps or order food online, with those aged under 45 significantly more likely to do this than other ages.
  • Four fifths agreed that its convenient to be able to order from their phones and as a result, more than half order more often than they otherwise would.
  • The widespread use of promotional alerts has contributed to consumers ordering more food than planned.
  • Calorie labelling is being noticed on menus and is having an impact on the choices made by consumers.


  • More than half of respondents said it was important to them that the food they eat is produced and packaged in a sustainable way.
  • With regards to making modifications to the diet, more than a third say they actively reduce meat consumption most or all of the time, while over a quarter actively reduce dairy intake.
  • However, in the context of other decision making criteria, such as cost and taste, concerns around sustainability are a much lower priority.
  • Consumers practice a range of sustainable behaviours, with around three quarters actively trying to reduce food waste and drinking tap water over bottled water, always or most of the time. 
  • Cheaper prices for foods that are more sustainable, and sustainable foods being on promotion, were the top reasons consumers would be encouraged to choose more sustainable options.