Multi-component food-items and eating behaviour: what do we know and what do we need to know?

Laura L Wilkinson, Rochelle Embling, Hollie Raynor, Jeffrey M Brunstrom, Suzanne Higgs, Michelle D Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Multi-component food-items are single food products that comprise more than one food class, brought together usually via some form of processing. Importantly, individual components of the food-item remain discernible and sensorially distinguishable from each other (e.g., chocolate chip cookies or 'choc ice'). Despite a sizable research literature on the formulation of such products, there lacks a concomitant research literature on the effect(s) of multi-component food-items (compared to single component food-items) on eating behaviour. Considerable previous research has investigated the effect of multiple separate food items on food intake, portion size selection and palatability. However, studies rarely use test foods that capture the physical or chemical interactions between components that are characteristic of multi-component foods. Nevertheless, previous research and relevant theory allow us to generate hypotheses about how multi-component foods may affect eating behaviour; consideration of food variety and perceived sensory complexity suggest that consumption of multi-component foods are likely to increase perceived palatability of such foods, self-selected portion size and food intake. Moreover, many (but not all) multi-component foods would be considered ultra-processed, which is a driver of food intake in and of itself. One possibility is that food components brought together as part of a multi-component food-item interact to strongly drive eating behaviour. To explore this idea, researchers will need to work across disciplines to address various practical and methodological barriers including the technical preparation of test foods.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105718
Early online date26 Sept 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 26 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


  • Food intake
  • Food variety
  • Multi-component food-items
  • Portion size
  • Sensory complexity
  • Ultra-processed foods


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