carnegieXchange: School of Sport

An introduction to FIO Food

As energy prices rise, the cost-of-living crisis will affect us all. However, the impact of escalating household bills will be disproportionately felt by those who are already struggling to make ends meet.

A FIO Logo Cropped

It has been suggested that there may be a difficult choice between ‘eating or heating’ which may become a reality for many, and these pressures may lead to individuals choosing lower cost, energy dense, nutrient poor foods. At a time that the UK Government recognise obesity as a national problem, especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, there is limited recognition of how the current challenge of cost of living may have a long-term impact on our national obesity levels.

FIO-Food, Food insecurity in people living with obesity, funded by the UK Research and Innovation and led by University of Aberdeen, has just hosted its first meeting at the Rowlett Institute in Aberdeen. FIO-Food is a 3-year collaboration between University of Aberdeen, Leeds Beckett University, University of Leeds, University of Liverpool, Robert Gordon University and University College London, and working with Sainsbury’s and MoreLife as a project partners. The lived experience of people with obesity is the cornerstone of the FIO-food project, which aims to coproduce actionable evidence for policy on retail strategies to address dietary inequalities in people living with obesity and food insecurity, and to support sustainable and healthier food choices in the UK food system.

Sitting round a table in the inspiring Rowlett Institute enabled conversations to flow, with colleagues bouncing ideas about the coproduction of the four programmes of work. The first work programme will invite people living with obesity, to share their lived experiences of trying to shop whilst living on an increasingly tighter budget, whilst informing us of what they understand by sustainable diets. We will also be working with key stakeholders including retail, academic, food distributors and policy makers to see how they respond to the data and insights we gain. Using big data from Sainsbury’s nectar card (millions of food transactions), the second programme will look to understand purchasing habits of people and how potentially these purchasing habits may change as we face greater austerity.

The insights gained from these two work programmes will inform the development of the third work programme which will look to action the findings. Working with clients from MoreLife, myself, Professor Paul Gately and Dr. Claire Griffiths, will work with the MoreLife team and Sainsburys to develop strategies to help change behaviours. Throughout the FIO-Food project a fourth work programme will consider the impact and knowledge exchange, sharing the evidence with key stakeholders including policy makers, the media, retail sector as well as those with the lived experience, in real time.

FIO-food is an exciting project that will allow us to develop practical solutions to promote sustainable and healthier food choices for people living with obesity at maybe one of the most critical times in our recent history. We therefore recognise the importance of this work and invite colleagues and other stakeholders to contact us to hear more of get involved.

Dr Hannah Greatwood

Senior Lecturer / Carnegie School Of Sport

Before joining the Carnegie School of Sport, Hannah worked as a clinical Dietitian at Leeds Teaching Hospitals. Hannah's doctoral research, funded by Leeds Beckett University investigated socio-ecological influences on adolescent dietary behaviours, using both local and national data.