Food Choices in the City

The pilot study I conducted at Highpoint Shopping Centre allowed me to observe how food choices were made amongst different people. There are many factors that influence food choices. Therefore I conducted this observation to develop into food choices. Some factors involved gender differences, this effected the food choice and the process of eating, how the effect of age plays part in choosing food, along with which cultures foods were eaten most; Chinese, Turkish, or Italian. I also observed whether culture had an effect on food choices? What these people were wearing? How long it took for them to decide on what they were going to eat? Does the time of the day and the days of the week have an effect on the selection and amount of food eaten? And how the food is eaten? Children and how their food selection is analysed?

This topic interested me because eating is a process we go through every day in order to survive therefore it is interesting to see who eats what in this ongoing process. The variety of foods offered today in a multicultural environment can give people a wide choice to choose from, this I think makes it more interesting.


The pilot study was conducted at the food court in Highpoint Shopping Centre on the second level, where I spent a total of six hours, broken into three, two-hour sessions. The reason that I chose Highpoint Shopping Centre was because there is a large choice of different culture foods, including McDonald’s and KFC (those two not being a part of the culture foods), which play a major part in the selection for the children.

During this observation I could say that I saw more than 200 people. Interaction was not part of the observation at any time; therefore I had no effect on peoples choices. But because some people realised that they were being observed, that could have had a major effect on my discoveries. If people knew I was watching them, they could have felt intimidated and left the setting out of fear for their protection/safety. The facts that some food placed were very large in the food court and had more of a variation of foods was a major effect when choosing food.

Table 1-setting of food court

Tables rubbish area

The Patterns

The major patterns of focus were gender and age, and how they have big effects on people when they are choosing food and when they are involved in eating. I observed patterns such as the time people spend on choosing and eating the food, proportions of food eaten. I also examined other patterns such as how people vary when eating in a group and when eating alone and the effects of being around the opposite gender when eating. The pattern I concentrated on the most was which cultures of food were eaten most and which age group and gender choose to eat which culture foods.

Children seemed mostly to eat the quick and easy meals, it was mainly McDonalds, or KFC. Although the majority were McDonalds, this does not seem hard to believe. It was always the happy meal, with a burger, chips and drink, not to forget mentioning the toy that came along with the meal. Which I found very interesting, because after a few bites of their cheeseburger, a couple of fries and a sip of coke, that was it for the meal. The toy became the centre of attention, so that to me was why the children were always eating McDonalds or KFC, they were not interested in different culture foods. They stuck to what was familiar to them, only because the media chocks down what they want to see, and play with. Middle aged people walked around the food court and thought more about what they were going to eat, what was going to satisfy them more. They were the type to try something different to the same old stuff. The older age groups were more fussier of what they wanted, they took a while, some conclusions that I came up with may have been, prices, not familiar with some culture foods, diabetes could have been a problem, or even cholesterol. You could tell their food choices were not as satisfying to them.