Creating a healthy food environment
What are you having for lunch, a tempting snack or a healthy salad? Every day, we make decisions about what to eat in all kinds of situations, such as the supermarket, school canteen, train station or gym. Although the range of food available these days is wide, that doesn’t mean it promotes a healthy, eco-friendly diet. Most decisions are made based on price, flavour, brand and convenience, but the point of sale position also affects what food we buy. The unconscious influence of advertising and social media also has a major impact.
About one in eight children and half of all adults in the Netherlands are overweight. One of the causes is our food environment, where consumers are constantly tempted to choose unhealthy food. There are significant health differences between groups of people, depending on their socio-economic status. This results in chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and more pressure on healthcare budgets as a consequence. These healthcare costs will become unsustainable in the future, and solutions to stimulate public health must be found.
Many different parties are involved in this issue; the business community, the government, social organisations and consumers. In the minor ‘Creating a healthy food environment’, you devise solutions to make the food environment healthier.
The following video explains the minor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnoHb_pqMNA
About this minor
The 20-week programme consists of theory lessons, guest lectures, excursions, and interdisciplinary project work.
Theory lessons, guest lectures and excursions
Theory lessons are designed around the food environment and the consumer. You will learn about nutrition and health, and what the term ‘food environment’ means. Lectures on behavioural change will give you insight into various strategies that encourage consumers to make healthier choices. Legislation and labelling lessons look in detail at the information on food packaging. There are assignments linked to all lessons, so you can further familiarise yourself with the material.
The weekly guest lectures are given by well-known scientists, the food industry, social organisations, food services, and local or national government authorities. They explain, from their perspective, their role in the food environment and what they can contribute. There is plenty of opportunity for discussion with the speakers during these lectures, so you can gain insight into the interests of various stakeholders and form your own critical opinion about the food environment. A number of excursions are included in the programme.
In addition to the theory lessons, you will spend 20 weeks working in a multidisciplinary group on a project to gradually make the food environment healthier. You will first conduct thorough research into the food environment, then devise a strategy to improve it so that consumers can eat more healthily. This strategy is presented to the client and lecturers at the end of the minor.
Some examples of projects:
- Design a supermarket (e-store) of the future to help consumers make healthy choices;
- Introduce healthy school lunches at primary schools, hospitals or other healthcare facilities;
- Develop a pre-test for food companies to avoid misleading labels;
- Encourage pupils in primary schools to drink water;
- Investigate the amount of fat and calories in pizzas from different pizza chains;
- Design a campus for the future.
The Minor 'Creating a healthy food environment' is taught in English, and was assessed with an 8 last academic year.
You will learn how to:
- take a critical, nuanced and substantiated point of view about the underlying causes of unhealthy food environments;
- develop an effective strategy that leads to a healthier food environment, allowing consumers to eat more healthily;
- take into account the interests of the various relevant stakeholders, such as the food industry, government authorities, consumers, and NGOs.
- Completed Higher Professional Education (HBO) propaedeutic year and at least 40 credits from the 2nd year.
- a basic knowledge of nutrition and health is recommended but not mandatory.
- any specific knowledge gaps can be discussed in advance and additional teaching material will be made available.
Parallel to a lecture series (including excursions), you will work on an assignment in groups for approximately 50% of your time. Contact hours and lectures (online and live) will be scheduled on two fixed days as much as possible.
A project supervisor will supervise you during the minor regarding content and your personal development. In addition, peer review is used as a learning tool to improve your work and that of your peers. Your grade will be determined during an oral assessment at the end of the 20 weeks. The pass grade is 5.5. In addition, you are required to complete the group assignment with a report of sufficient quality.
During the course of the Minor you will be guided by a project supervisor in terms of content and in your personal development. In addition, peer review will be used as a learning tool (to improve your work and that of fellow students). Your grade will be determined in an oral assessment towards the end of the 20 weeks. This needs to be at least a 5.5. In addition you need to finalize the group assignment with a report of sufficient quality.