Food and public health challenges

A better food system for young and old

Food in a fridge 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 w.j.wills@herts.ac.uk if you would like to find out more or to discuss further.

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