Knowledge alone of what makes a healthy diet is not sufficient to change consumer behaviour. Wageningen Economic Research provides insights into other essential factors, such as the physical and social environments that play a role in eating healthily.
Research has shown that there are many possible ways of encouraging consumers to buy and eat healthier food. Wageningen Economic Research has determined the effects of many interventions aimed at healthy eating on both consumer behaviour and on those who implement the interventions. Our research institute has an extensive database of experiences of the effects of various interventions at our disposal. Amongst other tools, we also use a virtual supermarket and a simulation model to conduct our research. Based on these research results, producers and governments can take measures that respond to the physical or social environment of consumers and the personal characteristics of consumers, such as their receptivity to innovation or how much importance they attach to health. This promotes healthier eating habits. Wageningen Economic Research studies the effects of interventions at a long-term strategic level as well as their applicability in daily life.
The environment contributes to behavioural change
The social environment has a significant influence on consumer behaviour. For instance, how the stimulus of influential, like-minded peers affects behaviour. Peer pressure can lead to more positive eating habits. Measures that affect the physical environment can also contribute to healthier eating patterns. Much research has already shown that having healthy food readily available in a convenient location stimulates its consumption.
App-based product development
Taste and convenience are key factors in consumers' dietary choices. Product development can be steered to create products that have an optimum balance of convenience, health and taste. Wageningen Economic Research recently developed an app that provides detailed information on people's consumption patterns. The data this app gathers can be utilised for product development and other measures to encourage good nutrition. Researchers are testing whether this data can be used to predict market response.
Wageningen Economic Research contributes through research and development expertise
Wageningen Economic Research continues to look for even more effective interventions that can be implemented in daily practice. We would like to collaborate with market actors and government bodies in a joint research programme to bring together the experiences of the interventions aimed at healthy eating. This could provide opportunities to learn from each other's experiences when developing a framework and opportunities to formulate and implement new interventions. We also consider the long-term effects of interventions. For example, will the new eating habits last or will the behavioural change only be short-lived? Wageningen Economic Research also examines the organisational and economic effects on those who will implement the interventions. As a result, Wageningen Economic Research can help market parties, government bodies and NGOs devise new strategies and effective measures.
The publication of the Good Nutrition Guidelines by the Health Council of the Netherlands represents a first, important step in helping consumers adopt healthier eating habits. Would you like to take the next steps together with Wageningen Economic Research?
If you are interested in this intervention initiative, you can send Arjen Daane or Marieke Meeusen an e-mail or telephone them. See contact details at the top of the page.