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Understanding lived experiences of navigating supermarket foodscapes when living on a low income.

Douglas, Flora; Hunter, Emma



Despite being a public health priority for over 30 years, the prevalence of obesity in the UK remains high. Strategies to tackle obesity have typically focused on behaviour change at the individual level, ignoring wider health and social inequities that can increase an individual's risk of developing obesity and decrease responsiveness to interventions. Many people living on low incomes face food insecurity: the inability to afford or reliably access food that meets recommended nutritional requirements. Ultra processed foods, often high in fat, salt and sugar which tend to be cheaper than healthier alternatives can become a sensible economic choice, however, repeated consumption can present challenges for weight management. Interventions helping support the purchase and consumption of healthy food which move beyond individual responsibility to consider the existing socio-economic factors that contribute to weight gain and prevent weight reduction are required. Additionally, research suggests eating a healthy diet, in line government recommendations (i.e., the Eatwell Guide), would also bring about environmental benefits, through associated reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, helping tackle climate change. Individuals in high income countries purchase the majority of their food in supermarkets, making this the ideal context for research into and the delivery of 'upstream' social and economic level interventions. This study aims to provide a starting point for intervention development by exploring the experiences of people living with obesity and food insecurity when shopping in the supermarket environment, to help identify the instrumental factors and environmental cues that currently influence the purchase of healthy, environmentally sustainable food. Semi-structured interviews and focus groups will be conducted to explore broad experiences of shopping, choice of retailer, the receipt of emergency food provision and its impact on purchasing behaviour and external influences (i.e. others they shop for). The ways in which people living with obesity and food insecurity believe supermarkets can help support them purchase healthy, environmentally sustainable food will also be examined. Interviews will be audio recorded and transcribed verbatim, and data subject to thematic analysis. Findings will be used to inform intervention development as part of the FIO (Food Insecurity in People Living with Obesity) Food project.


DOUGLAS, F. and HUNTER, E. 2023. Understanding lived experiences of navigating supermarket foodscapes when living on a low income. Presented at the 8th United Kingdom congress on obesity (UKCO 2023), 14-15 September 2023, Belfast, UK.

Presentation Conference Type Lecture
Conference Name 8th United Kingdom congress on obesity (UKCO 2023)
Conference Location Belfast, UK
Start Date Sep 14, 2023
End Date Sep 15, 2023
Deposit Date Sep 27, 2023
Publicly Available Date Nov 14, 2023
Keywords Food insecurity; Obesity; Supermarkets; Shopping; Customer experiences
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