Healthy Eating Research (HER) recently released research aimed at understanding the strategies that best increase consumer demand for healthy products. The report, a national research agenda for supporting healthy eating through retail strategies, highlights ways to encourage better health through food choices. HER has also released a periodic review to accompany the report, which appears in a special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
The food vending business is one of the key settings affecting diets and the health of children and families. However, the healthfulness of foods and beverages available in food stores varies widely across the United States,” said Kirsten Arm, MPH, RDN, research analyst at HER for Food Tank. “This is a sector in which the industry plays a large role. in improving the availability, accessibility and affordability of health products that meet nutrition recommendations.”
The Research Agenda Report identifies key research questions and areas of future research. The nine papers in the special issue of the journal examine the importance of researching strategies that promote healthy eating. Both help determine the next steps for researching and implementing healthy habits at the grocery store.
HER, a national research program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) in the United States, identified the need for a national research agenda in 2010. This was done in collaboration with the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the Food Fund .
Arm says the research agenda report “identifies 10 key areas that have emerged as priorities for future research – five that focus on understanding the current food retail environment and consumer behavior and five that focus on assessing the implementation and effectiveness of interventions and policies.”
These include understanding the food retail environment, consumer shopping behaviors, targeted food marketing, and food retail design layouts. Areas of assessment included making use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), reducing unhealthy food establishments, and addressing social determinants of health.
One of the papers in this series, “Healthy Food Trade During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Challenges and Future Directions,” highlights the societal shift in grocery shopping. He points to the national increase in home food preparation, online grocery ordering, reliance on charitable food distributions, and reductions in food supply chains.
“Using a model to describe the impact of the pandemic, the authors were able to identify potential strategies to help build a more equitable retail food environment,” Arm tells Food Tank.
These approaches include focusing community members who are under-resourced, addressing accessibility issues for SNAP and special supplementation for WIC recipients, understanding online consumer buying behaviors and the role of online marketing, and supporting sustainable and diverse business models. Fashion.
Two research teams from HER have also analyzed the effectiveness of government policies and in-store pilots in promoting healthy eating that is already in place. They found an increase in access to healthy food products and the use of financial incentives for fruits and vegetables improves dietary behaviors. In addition, researchers note that promotions such as live labels and food samples, as well as taxes on sweetened beverages, are also successful.
HER hopes that by demonstrating effective initiatives and highlighting new areas of research and retail interventions, more collaborative relationships and partnerships will be developed between retailers and researchers.
“Improving the retail environment through [policy, systems, and environment] The strategies are part of the puzzle in the long-term goal of ensuring that all children, especially low-income population groups and racial and ethnic minorities, have equal access to healthy food.”