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The suburban food basket: the role of spatial setting and social context in providing access to healthy food
Lead applicant: Dr Shaun Scholes (Epidemiology & Public Health) Main collaborator: Professor Laura Vaughan (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies). The project has additional guidance from Dr Jenny Mindell, head of the Health and Social Surveys Research Group and Dr Angela Donkin, from the UCL Institute of Health Equity. Food-related ill-health in the UK is responsible for about 10% of deaths and illnesses and costs the NHS an estimated £6 billion annually. Money, transport, the availability of healthy food, cooking facilities and knowledge and skills all affect people’s ability to eat a healthy, balanced diet. This study aims to involve secondary school pupils in understanding and evaluating the issues which influence our diet, and define a ‘healthy food basket’ which is appropriate for different social and cultural groups. The project will also survey students to identify how often healthy food items are bought and how easy it is to buy healthy food in their local communities. The project team has recruited year 9 (pre-GCSE cohort) pupils from Yavneh College, a secondary school in Borehamwood, Hertfordshire so that they are involved in the project as citizen scientists. A paper describing the pilot study, the main findings, and methodological lessons learned will be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal. The team will also report back at an assembly at the recruited school on the findings and in order to inform students of academic research as a potential career option.
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