Assessing how different socio-economic groups in the UK respond to food price changes using a Virtual Supermarket
Poor diets account for a considerable proportion of disease burden in the UK. Understanding why people buy particular foods is important if we are to design interventions that encourage individuals to make healthier choices. Price is often cited as one of the main influences on food purchases; measures that change the price of foods (e.g. taxes on unhealthy foods, fruit and vegetable subsidies) have been suggested as potential interventions. However, the precise effects of such interventions are difficult to gauge and we know little about the differential impacts of such interventions on different socio-economic groups.
Experimental studies provide an opportunity by which to study the influences of price, and other factors, on individuals’ purchasing behaviour. The Virtual Supermarket is an experimental purchasing environment that has previously been used to assess the effects of price changes and promotions in the Netherlands and New Zealand. This doctoral project involves the adaptation of the existing Virtual Supermarket to reflect the product choice available to UK consumers. The UK Virtual Supermarket will then be used to undertake a randomised controlled trial looking at the effects of food price changes on purchases.
This doctoral project is funded by a British Heart Foundation Non-Clinical PhD Studentship. Anja is supervised by Dr Peter Scarborough, Dr Wilma Waterlander (University of Auckland), and Professor Mike Rayner.