Exploiting Food Choice Biases for Healthier Recipe Recommendation

David Elsweiler, Christoph Trattner, Morgan Harvey

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


By incorporating healthiness into the food recommendation/ranking process we have the potential to improve the eating habits of a growing number of people who use the Internet as a source of food inspiration. In this paper, using insights gained from various data sources, we explore the feasibility of substituting meals that would typically be recommended to users with similar, healthier dishes. First, by analysing a recipe collection sourced from Allrecipes.com, we quantify the potential for finding replacement recipes, which are comparable but have different nutritional characteristics and are nevertheless highly rated by users. Building on this, we present two controlled user studies (n=107, n=111) investigating how people perceive and select recipes. We show participants are unable to reliably identify which recipe contains most fat due to their answers being biased by lack of information, misleading cues and limited nutritional knowledge on their part. By applying machine learning techniques to predict the preferred recipes, good performance can be achieved using low-level image features and recipe meta-data as predictors. Despite not being able to consciously determine which of two recipes contains most fat, on average, participants select the recipe with the most fat as their preference. The importance of image features reveals that recipe choices are often visually driven. A final user study (n=138) investigates to what extent the predictive models can be used to select recipe replacements such that users can be "nudged" towards choosing healthier recipes. Our findings have important implications for online food systems.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2017
EventThe 40th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval - Tokyo, Japan
Duration: 7 Aug 2017 → …


ConferenceThe 40th International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval
Period7/08/17 → …
Internet address


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