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Poor diet is one of the major contributors to preventable morbidity and premature mortality in the UK. In addition, food production, especially animal-sourced foods (e.g. meat, dairy), is a major contributor to environmental harms.

Food and drink purchases from grocery stores are a crucial antecedent of household consumption and interventions which change food purchasing have the potential to encourage healthier and sustainable food choices at a scale to bring public health and planetary benefits.

We have a small research team working on the development and testing of interventions to encourage food purchasing in grocery and out-of-home settings which is consistent with health and environmental targets.  There is an opportunity for a DPhil student to join this team, focussing on understanding the effectiveness and acceptability of interventions across socio-demographic groups.

Research methods may include:

  • Early phase testing using our online supermarket platform to understand the effectiveness of strategies which would otherwise be hard to roll out in real supermarkets.
  • Individual-level interventions to encourage healthier and sustainable food choices. This will involve development and testing of novel interventions using digital technologies
  • Natural experiments and field trials in real online or physical stores or other food environments. This will build on our current work with major UK retailers and food service providers to develop and test the feasibility of interventions, or evaluate the roll out of successful pilot interventions and natural experiments
  • Observational data analysis and modelling using grocery shopping data from loyalty cards to understand changes in food purchasing patterns at a household level in response to policy changes (e.g. proposed national ban of prominent positioning and multi-buy promotions on unhealthy foods).

The project will suit a student with some knowledge of both nutrition and behaviour change and with strong quantitative research skills. It is likely to involve direct collaborations with the food industry. The student will join the thriving Health Behaviours team in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. Please contact us for any questions:

Susan Jebb:;

Rachel Pechey:;

Carmen Piernas:

Supervisory team