Food environments (consisting of public and private sectors as well as communities) have an important role in determing the types of food citizens have access to. The individual and collective actions of these sectors will, to a large extent, determine the opportunities that citizens have to eat healthy and sustainable diets. We will apply rigorous methods to gain insight into the roles of business, governments and communities in influencing the transition to healthier and more sustainable food environments in line with Farm2Fork aims.
The overarching objective here is to improve our understanding of the barriers and enabling factors affecting food system actors’ efforts to improve food environments and to produce, process, promote and provide affordable, sufficient, healthy and environmentally, socially and economically sustainable food products, processes and services to respond to citizens’ needs, requirements and preferences.
- To understand the role of businesses in shaping healthy/sustainable food environments.
- To understand the role of governments in shaping healthy/sustainable food environments.
- To understand the role of communities in shaping healthy/sustainable food environments.
- To elucidate food system synergies and tradeoffs affecting healthy/sustainable dietary behaviour.
We will use the Business Impact Assessment (BIA) tool on Obesity and BIA Sustainability tool to explore the role of business in shaping food environments. Both tools have been developed by INFORMAS for benchmarking food company policies and practices on population nutrition and sustainability at the national level. They will be used to conduct a baseline assessment of how businesses affect food environments and to make preliminary recommendations on how businesses can support the transition to healthy/sustainable dietary behaviour. The baseline assessments (BIA-Obesity, BIA-sustainability) together with preliminary recommendations for businesses on how to improve their commitments and practices, will be used to co-design solution with businesses and select priority interventions for reducing relative availability, prominence and promotion of unhealthy and unsustainable foods. The co-design process will consider impact on health, the environment, profits, and key barriers and facilitators for businesses to implement specific interventions addressing both nutrition and sustainability. The implementation of BIA-Obesity and BIA-Sustainability across five EU countries will result in specific recommendations for businesses on how to improve their commitments and practices in relation to nutrition and sustainability.
To explore the role of governments in shaping food environments Lead, we will map government policies (including food-based dietary guidelines) for healthy diets from sustainable food systems at local, national and EU levels, as well as conduct semi-structured interviews with government officials in five EU countries at different levels of jurisdiction, to assess barriers and facilitators to implementation of healthy diets from sustainable food systems. The mapping of policies for healthy diets from sustainable food systems will be conducted according to the existing Food-EPI methodology. Food-EPI is an established tool and process to benchmark (essentially national, but also EU or regional) government policies as well as infrastructure support systems to create healthy food environments. Additionally, the Community Readiness Model (CRM) will be used for semi-structured interviews to get insights into the barriers and facilitators of development and implementation of priority policies to create healthy diets from sustainable food systems.
Group Model Building (GMB) workshops will be developed in communities with vulnerable populations to co-design solutions that provide access to healthy diets from sustainable food systems taking into account the barriers and facilitators to consuming healthy sustainable diets based on individual factors, social structures and local environments identified in the mapping and monitoring dietary patterns activity. GMB is a qualitative method aimed at engaging individuals to collectively consider the causes of complex problems using causal loop diagrams (CLDs). The results of these three GMB workshops will be analysed to derive consumer informed policies for healthy diets from sustainable food systems.
Finally, trade-offs and synergies in potential actions across actors, policy domains and governance levels will be explored. A systemic approach will be used to identify synergies and trade-offs between policy domains pertaining to both nutrition and sustainability, between actors and between levels of jurisdiction. The results will directly contribute to providing a scientific basis for informing dietary advice that can be used by different food system actors at the meso level to empower individuals to adopt healthier and more sustainable dietary behaviours.