Researchers at the University of Liverpool are part of two major interdisciplinary research projects funded by UK Research and Innovation as part of its Strategic Priorities Funding Program for the Transformation of UK Food Systems.
Dr Mark Green and Dr Charlotte Hardman are part of a £1.6million study called ‘FIO-FOOD, Food insecurity in people living with obesity – improving sustainable and healthier food choices in the retail FOOD environment’which will study obesity and food insecurity, led by the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen.
Aiming to improve sustainable and healthier food choices in retail settings for people suffering from obesity and food insecurity, the collaborative study will, for the first time, bring together consumers, policy makers, charities, food producers, processors and retailers, as well as academic experts to co-develop and test strategies that can support future changes in the food system.
Dr Mark Green said: ‘For this study we will be recruiting participants from across the UK and these participants will share their experience of living with obesity and food insecurity. We will also analyze the food experiences of UK consumers in a variety of ways, including focus groups, an online survey, a national digital intervention study, and historical and anonymized data from supermarket customers.”
“This will allow us to develop practical solutions to promote sustainable and healthier food choices for this group of people. It’s incredibly exciting to be involved in this project and I really look forward to working with this great team on this extremely important topic.
The project also involves researchers from University College London, Leeds Beckett University, the University of Leeds and Robert Gordon University.
“Thinking Beyond the Box”
Dr Charlotte Hardman is part of a £1.8million study called ‘Thinking beyond the box’: Incorporating UK-grown beans into healthy meals (BeanMeals) which will study how beans grown in the UK can help solve the problem of HFSS (high fat, sugar and salt) foods, led by the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford.
Based in Leicestershire, the BeanMeals project begins with the question of how to promote healthy eating through bean-based school meals and works its way up the supply chain to processing and growing the beans. Crossing research disciplines with innovation topics, the project aims to determine the best way to bring about systemic innovation, as well as to analyze the health, environmental and business benefits of the transformed system.
The research team brings together expertise from UK research institutions (Universities of Oxford, Liverpool, Hull, Warwick and Hertfordshire), covering areas such as food systems, agroeconomics, systems innovation, policy food, legume breeding, public health and behavior change.
Dr Charlotte Hardman said, “BeanMeals has the potential to create far-reaching impact, ranging from systemic innovation in institutional catering and home cooking through the use of healthier ingredients, to new public markets and increased demand for locally grown produce.
“The project will tackle multiple issues in our food system, including poor diets, rising levels of obesity and the high environmental impact of food production. It is very exciting to work in this strong team of academics and local and national actors to develop innovative ways to promote healthy diets with bean-based meals among schoolchildren and their families.
The funding, which has been awarded to 11 research projects in total, is the latest investment made by UK Research and Innovation under its Transforming UK Food Systems Strategic Priorities Fund programme, adding to previous grants of £29 million sterling spread over four major consortia projects. and a Doctoral Training Center (CDT).