Food systems and public health

Programme Lead: Prof Martin White

Almost all the food that we eat comes from commercial sources. Achieving healthier diets is therefore highly dependent on changing the commercial food system. Understanding such systems and their incentive structures, how they relate to consumers and shape their diets, and whether and how they can be modified are thus central to promoting healthier diets at a population level.

Our programme aims to:

  • Improve understanding of the factors that shape diets at a population level
  • Develop understanding of the key levers for change within food systems
  • Identify and critically assess opportunities to evaluate the impacts of food system change on diet and health at a population level
  • Translate evidence to enable changes in policy and practice nationally and internationally

Our research involves a critical evaluation of the role of commerce in supporting a healthy diet. We pursue research to understand the commercial food system and the social systems within which individuals consume food, and the interactions of these two worlds. Change in the commercial food system can come from within (through innovation) or externally (through regulation or incentives), and we are interested in the relative impacts of both approaches on diet and health. An important element of our work is to identify whether and how researchers can engage with the commercial food system without undermining the integrity of their science.

Programme staff

Programme students

  • Hannah Forde – UK Soft Drinks Industry Levy
  • Kai Schulze – processed foods, diet and health
  • Amy Yau – social inequalities in diet and health
  • Louis Goffe (at Newcastle University) – take-away food, diet and heath

Programme Studies

Evaluation of the health impacts of the UK Treasury Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) (PI: Martin White)

Dietary Public Health Research and the Food Industry (PI: Martin White)

Research to support the evaluation and implementation of adult cooking skills interventions in the UK: pilot RCT with process and economic evaluation components (PI: Martin White)

Transforming the ‘foodscape’. Development and feasibility testing of interventions to promote healthier take-away, pub or restaurant food (PI: Ashley Adamson, Newcastle University; CI: Martin White)

Programme Publications

Browse all programme publications on CEDAR publications database