WP7: Nudging and social marketing for change

Photo by Jony Ariadi on Unsplash

This work package is concerned with factors related to children’s eating environment and the food context. Children’s eating environment will be analysed as the overall context in which individual food choices take place and that influences the formation of healthy – or unhealthy – habits.

The research done in this part of the project is of relevance due to the major influence the eating environment has on children´s dietary behaviour. This includes the influence of parents, peers, and general home and school environment. As regards parents, they influence their children in many ways, but one of the most important ways is through their own behavior. Policy makers expect that parents are fully aware of their influence as role models, therefore also motivated to act as ‘positive’ role models, leading the way for their children’s healthy eating habits. But first, parents may lack awareness, and second, their possible motivation does not necessarily lead to action. The transition to parenthood can entail a change to unhealthy eating because of resource and time constraints. Therefore, expectant and young parents’ eating behaviour will be studied from a life-course perspective, across the different stages in pregnancy and early parenthood. How internal and situational barriers can be overcome to establish and maintain healthy eating habits, and how parents act as role models for their children – and to which effect – will also be studied. A second part of the work package will look at how to ‘nudge’ preschoolers to try new foods by developing and testing an innovative eating device, that is, an illustrative serving plate encouraging the consumption of vegetables. Finally, a third part of the work package will look into the eating environment at schools to study whether making unhealthy snacks less accessible reduces snack consumption at school. This part will also look into the prevailing social norms of eating snacks versus healthy food, how ‘cool’ is healthy eating vs eating snacks for pre-adolescents?

The practical, applied goal of the work package is to provide recommendations for social marketing campaigns including digital media or ‘nudging’ interventions addressing children´s social and physical eating environment in order to improve dietary choices.