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To investigate the feasibility and acceptability of using wearable cameras as a method to capture the opportunities for food and drink purchasing/consumption that young people encounter on their regular journeys to and from school.
A qualitative study using multiple data-collection methods including wearable cameras, global positioning system units, individual interviews, food and drink purchase and consumption diaries completed by participants over four days, and an audit of food outlets located within an 800 m Euclidean buffer zone around each school.
A community setting.
Twenty-two students (fourteen girls and eight boys) aged 13–15 years recruited from four secondary schools in two counties of England.
Wearable cameras offered a feasible and acceptable method for collecting food purchase and consumption data when used alongside traditional methods of data collection in a small number of teenagers. We found evidence of participants making deliberate choices about whether or not to purchase/consume food and drink on their journeys. These choices were influenced by priorities over money, friends, journey length, travel mode and ease of access to opportunities for purchase/consumption. Most food and drink items were purchased/consumed within an 800 m Euclidean buffer around school, with items commonly selected being high in energy, fat and sugar. Wearable camera images combined with interviews helped identify unreported items and misreporting errors.
Wearable camera images prompt detailed discussion and generate contextually specific information which could offer new insights and understanding around eating behaviour patterns. The feasibility of scaling up the use of these methods requires further empirical work.
Obesity levels are rising in almost all parts of the world, including the UK. School food offers children in Great Britain between 25 % and 33 % of their total daily energy, with vending typically offering products high in fat, salt or sugar. Government legislation of 2007 to improve the quality of school food now restricts what English schools can vend. In assessing the effect of this legislation on the quality of English secondary-school vending provision, the response of schools to these effects is explored through qualitative data.
A longitudinal postal and visit-based inventory survey of schools collected vending data during the academic year 2006–2007 (pre-legislation), 2007–2008 and 2008–2009 (both post-legislation). Interviews with school staff explored issues of compliance. Product categorisation and analysis were carried out by product type, nutrient profiling and by categories of foods allowed or prohibited by the legislation.
English secondary schools.
A representative sample of 279 schools including sixty-two researcher-visited inventory schools participated in the research.
School vending seems to have moved towards compliance with the new standards – now drinks vending predominates and is largely compliant, whereas food vending is significantly reduced and is mostly non-compliant. Sixth form vending takes a disproportionate share of non-compliance. Vending has declined overall, as some schools now perceive food vending as uneconomic. Schools adopting a ‘whole-school’ approach appeared the most successful in implementing the new standards.
Government legislation has achieved significant change towards improving the quality of English school vending, with the unintended consequence of reducing provision.
To examine the nature of the link between food advertising in UK magazines aimed at children and young people and Internet food marketing, to establish whether consideration should be given to tightening existing controls.
A review and descriptive analysis of food advertising found in a sample of the top five magazine titles aimed at a range of ages of children and young people between November 2004 and August 2005 and of the Internet food marketing sites to which readers were directed.
Food advertising appeared as ‘cover-mount’ free gifts and as part of the main bound issue. Children aged 6–10 years were the most frequent recipients of food-based free gifts, all of which were confectionery. No food advertising was found in magazines aimed at pre-school children and it formed a small percentage of total advertising in the magazines aimed at children of school age and above. Most food advertisements were for ‘less healthy’ foods, although advertisements for ‘healthier’ food products did appear infrequently. Almost half of food advertisements directed readers towards Internet food marketing sites. We found evidence that these sites are using at least some of the ‘marketing tricks’ which have been identified as a cause for concern.
Proposed restrictions on broadcast media may lead to more food advertising via other non-broadcast means. We suggest monitoring the effect of such changes in print and online advertising and that consideration be given to restricting marketing techniques used on websites aimed at children and young people.
To set out a policy analysis of food taxes as a way of influencing food consumption and behaviour.
The study draws on examples of food taxes from the developed world imposed at national and local levels. Studies were identified from a systemised search in six databases with criteria designed to identity articles of policy relevance.
The dominant approach identified from the literature was the imposition of food taxes on food to raise general revenue, such as Value Added Tax in the European Union. Food taxes can be applied in various ways, ranging from attempts to directly influence behaviour to those which collect taxes for identified campaigns on healthy eating through to those applied within closed settings such as schools. There is a case for combining taxes of unhealthy foods with subsidies of healthy foods. The evidence from the literature concerning the use and impact of food taxes on food behaviour is not clear and those cases identified are mainly retrospective descriptions of the process. Many food taxes have been withdrawn after short periods of time due to industry lobbying.
Conclusions for policy
Small taxes with the clear purpose of promoting the health of key groups, e.g. children, are more likely to receive public support. The focus of many tax initiatives is unclear; although they are generally aimed at consumers, another focus could be food manufacturers, using taxes and subsidies to encourage the production of healthier foods, which could have an effect at a population level. Further consideration needs to be given to this aspect of food taxes. Taxing food (and subsidies) can influence food behaviour within closed systems such as schools and the workplace.
To explore published and unpublished research into consumer understanding and use of nutrition labelling which is culturally applicable in Europe.
A systematic review undertaken between July 2002 and February 2003.
One hundred and three papers were identified that reported on consumer understanding or use of nutrition labelling, most originating from North America or northern Europe. Only a few studies (9%) were judged to be of high or medium–high quality. We found that reported use of nutrition labels is high but more objective measures suggest that actual use of nutrition labelling during food purchase may be much lower. Whether or not consumers can understand and use nutrition labelling depends on the purpose of the task. Available evidence suggests that consumers who do look at nutrition labels can understand some of the terms used but are confused by other types of information. Most appear able to retrieve simple information and make simple calculations and comparisons between products using numerical information, but their ability to interpret the nutrition label accurately reduces as the complexity of the task increases. The addition of interpretational aids like verbal descriptors and recommended reference values helps in product comparison and in putting products into a total diet context.
Improvements in nutrition labelling could make a small but important contribution towards making the existing point-of-purchase environment more conducive to the selection of healthy choices. In particular, interpretational aids can help consumers assess the nutrient contribution of specific foods to the overall diet.
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