Theme 6: Behaviour Change – Diet and Obesity

Start Date: 3 Oct 2016

Theme 6: Behaviour change – diet and obesity

This theme focuses on changing diet-related behaviour to improve health outcomes, especially to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, for which a poor diet is one of the key risk factors that can be changed.

To do this we will develop and test interventions to:

  • support people to change the composition of their diet to reduce the risk of disease. e.g. decrease saturated fat, sugar or salt; and
  • support people to lose weight, primarily by consuming less energy

The focus is not on ‘discovery’ science, which establishes which parts of the diet are risk factors for disease. Instead, this theme takes what is already known about these risk factors and considers, for example:

  • how to convey nutritional information in a way which best enables people to make appropriate changes; and
  • what are the behavioural strategies which motivate and support people to make sustainable changes to their diet?

Crucially, the focus is on creating interventions that can be delivered at a large scale and low cost to the NHS.
We know that intensive interventions to support people to change their diet, become more active or lose weight can significantly reduce the risk of diabetes and heart disease. But these interventions cannot be delivered in routine practice in a way which maintains their effectiveness.

We need to look for new approaches.

The interventions we will develop and test may have smaller benefits for individuals, but because they will be accessible to many more people the net effect may be greater for the population as a whole.