Healthy and sustainable food environments in Dutch neighborhoods

The majority of the Dutch population does not have a healthy and sustainable diet. Diet is influenced by a variety of factors, among which the food environment. A supportive food environment has been identified as crucial to meet a healthy and sustainable diet.

While effective elements of food environment interventions or policies to improve diets are available, sustained implementation in the real life context is lacking. Previous studies have often used top-down approaches to develop interventions, rather than co-creating interventions that respond to the local context and needs. Also, the literature lacks insight into the implementation process of food environment interventions in real-life contexts. Yet, co-creation methods and implementation research are essential to ensure that interventions will be successfully taken up by the local context and sustained over time.

The goal of this innovative research is to determine how healthy and sustainable food environments can best be co-created, implemented and sustained in ten Dutch neighborhoods in the region Foodvalley and the city of Utrecht. This will contribute to a transition towards healthy and sustainable neighborhood food environments and food choices.

A method will be developed to jointly analyze the objective and lived experience of the neighborhood food environments. Co-creation techniques will be used to develop neighborhood interventions for healthy and sustainable food environments incorporating stakeholders and end-users’ needs. Subsequently, the role of local policies in facilitating the transition to healthy and sustainable neighborhood food environments will be determined. Finally, the facilitators and barriers influencing the implementation of the interventions will be identified and the effect of the interventions on the food environment will be evaluated.

The project is part of the “Regio Deal Foodvalley”, track 2: "Nutrition and Health”, work package 2: the food environment.