Food and public health challenges
A better food system for young and old
Research coordinated by Professor Wendy Wills is developing a greater understanding of the challenges facing the UK food system and how these challenges influence the food choices - and consequently the health - of potentially vulnerable groups. Prof Wills leads the Food and Public Health Research Unit at the Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care.
One area of study is exploring the factors that drive schoolchildren to purchase less healthy food and drink in neighbourhoods around schools during school hours – and what policymakers can do to address this trend.
Another strand of research is demonstrating how older people are likely to have a wide range of factors working against them when sourcing and purchasing food. Through the Food Provision in Later Life study, researchers have identified practical and realistic measures that supermarkets could take to improve the food shopping experience for older people.
The overarching aim of this programme of research is to recommend interventions in the food system that enhance quality of life, deliver better health outcomes and reduce the social and economic burden of diet-related disease.
Policy briefing - Food beyond the school gate
Our policy briefing Healthy eating, healthy learning (PDF - 1.07 Mb) outlines recommendations to address the problem of young teenagers buying unhealthy food and drink from food outlets outside schools.
Research briefing - Improving food shopping for older people
Our research briefing Improving food shopping for older people (PDF - 0.38 Mb) identifies actions supermarkets can take to protect and enhance older people's food security and wellbeing, while appealing to an increasingly important customer base.
Get in touch
Contact Professor Wendy Wills at email@example.com if you would like to find out more or to discuss further.
Four in ten young teenagers buy sugar-filled drinks during the school lunch break – despite a ban inside school gates
New University of Hertfordshire research among over 500 teenagers aged 13-15, living in Scotland, has found that four in ten (41%) consume sugar-filled drinks – including regular fizzy drinks and energy drinks – during the school lunch break, despite these being banned within the school gates.
University of Hertfordshire research into why many young teenagers swap school meals for fast food beyond the school gate is cited in the first State of the Nation report on children’s food.
Findings from the University of Hertfordshire’s Food Provision in Later Life study have inspired a debate in the national media on how supermarkets can better meet the needs of older people.
The Government, local authorities, the voluntary sector and the food industry should do more to ensure older people have access to a healthy, affordable and safe diet, research has found.
A striking exhibition at the University of Hertfordshire has brought to life 1250 photographs, 40 hours of video and several days of interviews that sought to capture the changes in UK people’s views on, and experiences of, acquiring food as they get older.
The charity Children in Scotland has renewed its call for a dedicated children’s food policy following a one-day conference, which brought together policymakers, business, academics and civil society organisations to explore new policy interventions capable of tackling the obesity epidemic.
The Food Ethics Council has published a report that explores the drivers behind the rise in childhood obesity, considers interventions that business might take to address it and outlines measures that could be included in the Government’s forthcoming childhood obesity strategy.
Scotland needs a new national Children’s Food Policy to counter poor diet, obesity rates and a growing poverty crisis, according to advocacy group Children in Scotland.
Professor Wendy Wills will share her ‘Beyond the School Gate’ research findings at a conference designed to advise the Scottish Government on how a dedicated Children’s Food Policy could improve the health and lives of Scottish children.
Banning fast food shops near schools won’t be enough to tackle childhood obesity, University of Hertfordshire academics revealed today. With secondary school pupils travelling further afield to buy foods high in fat and sugar, food retailers have a major role to play to encourage them to make healthier food choices.
University of Hertfordshire researchers have made a short film to illustrate the findings from their research into young people’s lunchtime food and drink choices outside of the school environment.
What young people eat and drink in the neighbourhood around schools is viewed as a significant public health challenge.