The FIO Food Project

The FIO Food Project
The FIO Food (Food insecurity in people living with obesity – improving sustainable and healthier food choices in the retail food environment)

The current UK economic climate has led to a cost-of-living and energy crisis that has affected the affordability of goods and services for households. The poorest fifth of the UK population need to spend 50% of their ‘real’ disposable income to consume a healthy diet in line with the Eatwell Guide, in contrast to 11% needed by the richest fifth in the UK.

Furthermore, in 2023 The Food Foundation reported that 24% of households with children were experiencing food insecurity (the condition of not having access to sufficient food, or food of an adequate quality, to meet one’s basic needs). For families on low incomes, 76% of monthly food budgets are spent in supermarkets, so decisions that the retail food sector makes around advertising, promotions and in-store design have a huge impact on public health within this vulnerable group and they present an opportunity to encourage healthier and more sustainable dietary behaviours.

Despite decades of activity in UK diet and obesity strategies and policies, their historic focus on behaviour change and information provision (e.g. voluntary food labelling guidelines) is thought to have contributed to a relative lack of impact on population diet and health. Wide-reaching food industry-facing policies which structurally alter the food environment and require less cognitive effort on behalf of individuals are therefore recommended instead. Adverse outcomes among people living with obesity (PLWO) observed during the COVID-19 pandemic sparked increased government commitment to introducing legislation aimed at “making the healthy choice the easy choice” in retail and out of home food environments. This includes the introduction of legislation to restrict product placement of HFSS (High in Fat, Sugar and Salt) products in retail settings, an evaluation of which forms part of our research.

The FIO Food (Food insecurity in people living with obesity – improving sustainable and healthier food choices in the retail food environment) project provides a novel and multi-disciplinary collaborative approach with co-development at the heart to address these challenges. The FIO Food project will combine our knowledge of large-scale population data with an understanding of lived experiences of food shopping for PLWO and food insecurity, to provide urgently needed actionable evidence to support more sustainable and healthier food choices in the UK retail food environment.

During the September Community Huddle Special, our guest speakers will provide the following insights:

  • The value of co-production and the lived experience to inform evidence and/or practice
  • Lived experience perceptions of what works and doesn’t work in terms of supporting healthy and sustainable supermarket food purchasing
  • UK supermarket senior nutritionist perspectives, views and experiences of implementing interventions to support healthy and sustainable customer food purchasing
  • Utilising supermarket transactions and data science to understand the health and sustainability of population diet at scale