Gathering data on food environments and food practices

Our research on food environments in Copenhagen is out!

Unhealthy diets are the leading cause of mortality and morbidity globally. Simultaneously, the factors that influence diet-related ill-health also drive climate change. Acknowledging the link between health and environmental sustainability, in 2019 the EAT-Lancet Commission outlined a diet beneficial for both humans and the planet. There has since been a drive to adapt this diet for a range of settings. Thus, the Shifting Urban Diets project was initiated to support the City of Copenhagen’s move towards a planetary diet. Food environments are key to shaping dietary practices.

To provide evidence on how Copenhagen residents experienced their food environments, one component of this project explored, through photo-elicitation, how residents from one neighbourhood navigated and engaged with their food environment. Ten participants attended participatory photo-elicitation workshops over three weeks in November to December 2019, photographing their food environment and discussing the implications for human and planetary health. Data from the workshops (photos, notes and captions) were analysed thematically. Participants demonstrated the myriad factors that shape food environment engagement.

Beyond cost and the built environment, participants chose food outlets that allowed for socialising, that were convenient enough to make time for other activities, and that aligned with values and understandings about the role of food. Participants also naturally drew links between practices that were healthy and practices that were sustainable when considering how they would like the food environment to change. When food priorities and values align with material factors, people are more likely to purchase healthy, sustainable foods.

You can read the entire study here.


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