Household Food Waste: Multivariate Regression and Principal Components Analyses of Awareness and Attitudes among U.S. Consumers
OPEN PloS one | 22 Jul 2016
D Qi and BE Roe
We estimate models of consumer food waste awareness and attitudes using responses from a national survey of U.S. residents. Our models are interpreted through the lens of several theories that describe how pro-social behaviors relate to awareness, attitudes and opinions. Our analysis of patterns among respondents' food waste attitudes yields a model with three principal components: one that represents perceived practical benefits households may lose if food waste were reduced, one that represents the guilt associated with food waste, and one that represents whether households feel they could be doing more to reduce food waste. We find our respondents express significant agreement that some perceived practical benefits are ascribed to throwing away uneaten food, e.g., nearly 70% of respondents agree that throwing away food after the package date has passed reduces the odds of foodborne illness, while nearly 60% agree that some food waste is necessary to ensure meals taste fresh. We identify that these attitudinal responses significantly load onto a single principal component that may represent a key attitudinal construct useful for policy guidance. Further, multivariate regression analysis reveals a significant positive association between the strength of this component and household income, suggesting that higher income households most strongly agree with statements that link throwing away uneaten food to perceived private benefits.
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