NutriAct Family Study: Food Choices, Influence of Origin Family and Adult Partner

Even before birth, the family sets the course for later eating behavior. But what happens when the cards are reshuffled? Can people change their eating habits in the long term under the influence of their partners? To answer these questions, the DZD partner DIfE, the University of Potsdam, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine jointly launched the web-based NutriAct Family Study in October 2016. The interdisciplinary research team has now published information on the study design, methodology and the first phase of the study in the 'BMC Public Health Journal'.

Can people change their eating habits in the long term? Source: Lupo/

Recent studies indicate that a health-oriented diet can reduce risks for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and cancer. However, according to general consensus, eating habits learned in childhood usually last a lifetime. "We want to find out to what extent early eating behavior can be influenced by the partner in later life. After all, humans are not isolated, but exist in a social context," said Dr. Manuela Bergmann, head of the study and the Human Study Center at the German Institute of Human Nutrition Research Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE). Taking into account neurobiological, psychological and social aspects, the team of scientists is investigating the influence of the origin family on dietary behavior compared to that of the new, self-founded family.

To identify mechanisms of daily food choices, participants are asked about eating behavior, physical activity, quality of life, etc., by means of online questionnaires. In addition, the researchers analyze various social transition phases, such as retirement. By 2021, data are to be collected from around 3,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70. "Our objective is to create a basis for recommendations that enable even older people to implement a healthy diet in the long term," said Bergmann.

Study Participants
People throughout Germany between 50 and 70 years of age can participate in the study. We are looking for groups consisting of three persons: One couple (two participants) and one of the partner's brother or sister (one participant). Because information on food choice behavior is collected via online questionnaires, study participants need computer skills and Internet access. Around ten percent of the families are also invited to participate in in-depth studies at the DIfE Human Study Center. Participation is voluntary and can be cancelled at any time. In order to record possible changes, a further round of questionnaires shall be conducted after two years.

Persons interested in participating can contact the study team by email at familienstudie(at) .


Original Publication:
Schwingshackl L, Ruzanska U, Anton V, Wallroth R, Ohla K, Knüppel S, Schulze MB, Pischon T, Deutschbein J, Schenk L, Warschburger P, Harttig U, Boeing H, Bergmann MM. The NutriAct Family Study: a web-based prospective study on the epidemiological, psychological and sociological basis of food choice. BMC Public Health 2018 (


Background Information

The multidisciplinary project Nutritional Intervention for Healthy Aging: Food Patterns, Behavior, and Products – NutriAct for short – is a competence cluster in nutrition research funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) with 12 million euros. The main objective is to improve the health status of fifty to seventy-year-olds. Network partners come from the nutritional sciences, food chemistry and technology, biology, medicine as well as the humanities, social sciences and economics. Professor Tilman Grune, scientific director of the German Institute of Human Nutrition Potsdam-Rehbrücke (DIfE), is head of the multidisciplinary project, in which more than 30 research institutions and companies are involved.

More information at