Current research on mapping and monitoring dietary behaviours is limited to a few EU countries using different survey focuses, methods, and tools. The most popular ‘food frequency questionnaire’, for example, can measure adherence to healthy diets and in few cases minimally or partially capture the behavioural and communication aspect of food that leads to improved healthy diets. Our approach will advance the state of the art by first reviewing current literature and subsequently improving and integrating tools while applying robust methods
including cross-sectional surveys, experiments and the collection of primary data through citizen science initiatives to triangulate our data and overcome these limitations. Our aim will be to fully capture which foods are over- and under-consumed by vulnerable societal groups and the factors influencing their behaviours. These insights will support the development of targeted strategies for specific population segments to enable the transition to healthier and more sustainable diets.
- To map and monitor dietary patterns, purchasing, preparation and consumption behaviours.
- To identify barriers and facilitators to support citizens to adhere to healthier and more sustainable diets.
- To elucidate the existence of “natural” population segments experiencing similar contexts and who have similar diets.
- To provide a snapshot of Europeans’ adherence to recommendations on healthy and sustainable diets and produce new knowledge to inform local communities (at regional/rural/(sub)urban levels) and provide insights to inform the design of innovative interventions to support transitions to healthier and sustainable diets.
First, we will conduct a comprehensive scoping review of scientific and grey literature on factors influencing healthy and sustainable food consumption. Where possible, we will identify how these factors affect the most vulnerable subgroups of the population. We will follow the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis statement for scoping reviews (PRISMA-ScR statement).
Second, we will use the outputs of our scoping review to design and conduct a cross-sectional survey across 27 European Countries and the UK to collect novel data on dietary patterns, purchasing and consumption behaviours as well as the barriers and facilitators to adhere to healthier and more sustainable diets. We will apply a segmentation approach for data collection in our cross-sectional survey to identify “Natural European Dietary Segments”, which are exposed to similar environmental factors and have similar dietary choices. This approach can inform more effective actions to support both healthier and more sustainable behaviours. The cross-sectional survey results will be analysed using (hierarchical) multivariate analyses and structural equation models to identify the mechanisms (barriers and facilitators) associated with, as well as directly (in a mediated way) responsible for transitions to healthier and more sustainable dietary behaviours.
To complement the results of our literature review and cross-sectional survey, we will activate community citizen science groups (i.e., children, parents, teachers) to track food consumption habits (what, where and how they eat). We will identify opportunities for change in vulnerable populations using mixed methods, such as face-to-face interviews, structured observations and focus groups. The data we collect on food consumption habits will also undergo contents analysis and mapping value models. Furthermore, a discrete choice experiment will be conducted to explore dietary choices in vulnerable groups under predefined scenarios of food production and consumption, characterized by barriers or facilitators. To complete this snapshot of Europeans adherence to recommendations on healthier and more sustainable diets, our team will explore the information sources people use to inform their behaviours.