Creating a healthy food environment
Overweight and obesity are on the rise in the Netherlands and around the world. 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.
In this minor you will learn more about how we can make the healthy choice the easy choice, and which players this involves. Find out more about the various perspectives on our food environment with this minor: the government, the food industry, NGOs, experts and science, and what steps we can take.
This video gives you a short impression of the minor: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uH5VvfYkNBY
In principle, the language is English. If there are no English-speaking students participating, the Minor will be given in Dutch.
The 20-week programme consists of theory lessons, guest lectures, excursions, and interdisciplinary project work.
Theory and guest lectures
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.
Many guest speakers will inspire you and offer insight into their perspective on the food environment. Well-known scientists, the food industry, social organisations, food services, and local or national government authorities explain 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.
The projects vary per year. 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.
You will learn how to:
1. adopt a critical, nuanced and substantiated point of view about the underlying causes of unhealthy food environments;
2. develop an effective strategy that leads to a healthier food environment, enabling consumers to eat more healthily, and;
3. consider 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.
Travel costs to companies (excursions 2-4, within the Netherlands