STOP MetSyn consumer behaviour
Helping consumers make better food and lifestyle choices
One of the major challenges in moving towards a healthier society is helping consumers to make better food and lifestyle choices. Within the STOP MetSyn project, we are addressing this issue by understanding the actual consumer behaviour and habits and working together with consumers to develop strategies to help them to adopt healthier habits.
One of the tasks within this EIT Food4Health initiative, led by Dr Elena Millan from the University of Reading, aims at mapping consumers’ eating habits, food choices and physical activity aspect of their lifestyles in different European countries. Building on strong theoretical grounds from a wide range of research areas reviewed through ‘rapid evidence assessment’ during the first phase of the project, key drivers of peoples’ eating habits and lifestyle choices are also considered. Nationally representative data of 1000 study participants in the UK, France and Germany is collected through online surveys. In addition to generating a comprehensive up-to-date knowledge of the dietary habits and physical activity patterns of the generally healthy European consumers, the project findings will feed directly ideas into the development of a new app for healthy eating and physical activity, aimed at stimulating and sustaining a positive behavioural change.
Additionally, a large team of researchers from Psychology, Behavioral Economics and Social Marketing, led by Dr Julia Vogt at the University of Reading (UK) and by Prof Agnès Helme-Guizon at the University Grenoble Alpes (France) is co-creating with consumers strategies to eat healthier and be physically active. The team was interested to know what consumers themselves consider to be important factors and drivers for a change of lifestyle and what ideas they have to make such changes sustainable. Consumers in France, Belgium, the UK, and the Republic of Ireland were invited to online communities to share their experiences and ideas and to create new solutions together for two weeks.
When asked what makes healthy eating difficult, most consumers referred to little time and feeling stressed, down, or simply tired. Proposed solutions therefore focussed on making a healthy lifestyle easier such as by having easy and quick recipes for healthy meals readily available on an app. The participants also underlined how important it is to plan well and monitor whether one is going through with a plan for a healthy meal or a unit of exercising. In order to achieve sustainable changes, consumers underlined the importance of engaging in a healthy lifestyle that is also enjoyable. For instance, consumers from all four countries described how sharing a healthy meal with friends or loved ones or how exercising in nature as ways to look after oneself or one’s family’s well-being helps to find a healthy lifestyle motivating and enjoyable.