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  1. Paul, Rachel MS, RD, CDN
  2. Smith Edge, Marianne MS, RD, LD, FADA
  3. Greenblum, Marcia MS, RDN
  4. O'Meara, Brian MS


Incorporating factors external to food into nutrition advice and weight management programs can help health professionals improve American eating behaviors. Twelve focus groups were conducted with a demographically representative sample to understand why the participants ate. Questions focused on (1) definitions and triggers of consumption occasions, (2) desired outcomes of each consumption occasion, and (3) emotional involvement surrounding each consumption occasion. Major themes emerged from the discussions, which included the differences between snacks and treats, the emotional and physical involvement of various eating occasions, the necessity or unimportance of hunger throughout eating experiences, and the positive and adverse influences of others during mealtimes, snacks, and treats. Because each individual, society, and population group is different and has unique dietary influences, understanding nuances becomes increasingly necessary to develop effective strategies and tailor advice.