Food Insecurity in people living with Obesity – improving sustainable and healthier food choices in the retail FOOD environment
Good food is not only about being delectable but also about our personal health as well as the environmental impact. Although policies have been devised to cater for environmental, health and inequality problems, the UK continues to see a rise in overweight and obesity which in turn is a leading cause of death. Based on a wide review of the UK food system, the National Food Strategy sets out to deliver a food system that is “safe, healthy, affordable food; regardless of where they live or how much they earn”. The UK’s Eatwell Guide national eating guideline helps towards a healthy and sustainable diet which is also kind to the environment.
To date, no study has evidently documented the relationship between food insecurity, development of obesity and how effective interventions are in promoting healthy eating. The project is funded by the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and is in collaboration with Sainsbury’s supermarket, the UK’s 2nd largest supermarket chain.
The objective of this project is to combine anonymised Sainsbury’s supermarket loyalty card transaction data with published data on sustainability metrics across three environmental indicators (greenhouse gas emissions (GHGE), biodiversity loss and water use) to determine the sustainability footprint of the food and drink products shoppers buy. Also, the project aims to examine how the pattern of food and drink purchases are linked to the Eatwell guide which is beneficial for a healthy and more sustainable diet and thereby improves sustainable and healthier food choices in the retail industry.
Exploring the Characteristics and Trajectories of Individuals Referred to Social Care via the Police in Bradford
This project is being carried out in conjunction with, and with the supervision and support, of the ESRC Vulnerabilities and Policing Futures Research Centre.
The Centre will undertake a substantial programme of research that combines data science with insights from lived experiences to explore how vulnerability relates to policing and other service providers, and use these findings to build new, integrated, and innovative approaches to harm reduction that addresses the needs of vulnerable groups.
This project focuses on the exploration of the interactions between policing and social care service provision at both individual and place-based levels in Bradford. This will be achieved through analysing data provided by Social Care and West Yorkshire Police which has been uploaded to the Connected Bradford Research Database.
The project consists of two main aims. First, the identification, quantification and comparison of characteristics, trajectories and outcomes of individuals referred to social care through policing intervention in contrast to those referred through other means. Second, combining social care referral data with crime and incident data provided by West Yorkshire Police the project will explore place-based associations between the levels of social care referrals of various types and vulnerability-related events recorded in police data across Bradford neighbourhoods. Through these two objectives the project aims to identify potential pathways through which connected public service data can be harnessed to support effective evidence-based multi-agency service provision.
The Carbon Footprint of Food
Many countries and organisations, including the University of Leeds, have committed to preventing irreversible global warming and achieving net-zero emissions by 2030. It is estimated that 35% of GHG emissions in the UK come from the food system, and 25% of this food is purchased and consumed outside the home. For example, the University of Leeds catering offers out-of-home food options across 17 outlets to about 46,000 students and staff members. Consequently, these purchases can significantly contribute to the University’s overall emissions of GHG. The University of Leeds is setting ambitious zero GHG targets by 2050 and is committed to implementing front-of-pack ecolabels on the catering’s food items. Camilleri et al. (2019) imply that consumers underestimate the carbon footprint of food; they, however, respond to carbon labelling to change their consumption patterns.The project scopes to reduce GHG emissions through changes in diet and the food supply chain.
The project aims to create a carbon footprint tool for the procured and sold food at the University of Leeds. The objectives are;
- Create a baseline value of the carbon footprint using 2018/19 data.
- Evaluate the carbon footprint of food for 2019/20, 2020/21 and 2021/22, and provide the quarterly breakdowns.
- Provide in-depth trends analysis for food type, outlet, and high-impact areas.
- Create a tool that will use to value future carbon footprint.
- Highlight areas of uncertainty where the approach could/should be modified with the help of suppliers in the future.
- Create an action plan/recommendation to reduce our carbon footprint at the University.
Evaluating strategies to promote healthier and more sustainable dietary choices
In today’s world, the term “malnutrition” has been adopted to include dietary factors that increase the risk of certain non-communicable diseases and health complications such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and certain cancers. These diseases are a major cause of disability and mortality in the UK, with one in seven deaths attributed to poor diet.
Recent research has shown that a diet aligned with the Eatwell Guide increases the lifespans of the populace by large reductions in the number of saturated fats, salts and sugars consumed and is more sustainable for the planet. The Eatwell Guide is the UK’s dietary guidance showing the different types of food we should eat and the appropriate proportions for a healthy diet. Currently, only one percent of the population is complying with the Eatwell Guide, so big dietary shifts are needed for optimal health.
To change the UK food environment, the Institute for Grocery Distribution (IGD) – a social impact organisation at the heart of the food and grocery industry – has brought together its members to test and implement strategies in a series of trials. This is to help shift consumers towards the Eatwell Guide in an affordable way to achieve a healthier and more sustainable diet. The results of the trials are to be analysed at the University of Leeds. My study aims to investigate one of the several strategies tested by a UK supermarket retailer. In partnership with the retailer and the IGD, I will analyse the results of a healthy swaps trial that aimed to nudge customers towards healthier alternatives to popular items. Our objectives are to investigate if the in-store signposting promotion of healthier swaps increased the sales of the healthier options, whether the basket contents shifted towards Eatwell Guide recommendations and if the shifts were sustained after the intervention period via statistical modelling.
Investigating factors influencing route choice from Connected Car Data
This project seeks to investigate factors influencing route choices with a large dataset of trajectories. We would like to understand how a person’s surroundings impact the decisions they make when travelling from one location to another. Whether these environmental factors are internal (e.g. based on limited knowledge) or external (e.g. influenced by congestion), and measure these observed routes against optimal alternative (Google Maps API and OSMNx) routes, from the observed origin and destination.
This is achieved by analysing GPS trace data and car usage data. These GPS traces are available in remarkably high spatial and temporal granularity, for 50,000 vehicles over a one-month period, potentially enabling high level analysis of influences in routing behaviour.
New forms of data enable the investigation of routing behaviour in a variety of contexts but require extensive pre-processing. The first stage would focus on pre-processing (making this data analysis ready). Due to the volume of available data (600 Gb), it is projected that a significant part of this project would be data cleaning.
It is anticipated the connected car data will provide richer data on route choice than is currently available through conventional sources such as surveys. Relative to these existing sources, it is expected that greater detail can be captured on variation in route choice over different time periods as well as on the external factors that might influence them. Such insights can be fed into travel activity models for further analysis and to derive policy-relevant insights.
WatPop: Understanding seasonal population change
This research is part of a larger ongoing study which aims to infer tourist dwelling characteristics and occupancy patterns using high temporal resolution water metering data. It utilises data provided by the regional statutory water authority South West Water (SWW). Water metering data are routinely collected by water authorities and could have tremendous potential as an indicator of household and neighbourhood type.
The south west of England experiences increased population mobility due to an influx of tourists, particularly in the summer months. This creates a considerable strain on infrastructure and local services. Moreover, there is currently a lack of tourism statistics captured at the local level to understand these effects. Therefore, this study through identifying different occupancy rates and dwelling types, could better prepare local services and infrastructure to cope with the increased population mobility.
This research extends the findings of van Alwon et al (2022) where methods have been applied to evaluate ‘features’ in property-level water consumption data that could identify occupancy patterns for tourist dwellings and distinguish tourist dwellings from residential dwellings. The objectives of the next six months are to automate these processes of data cleaning, such as leak detection so they could be run in near real time. Moreover, alternative approaches will be explored, and the existing approaches will be evaluated to determine whether they can be upscaled to a larger sample of dwellings and applied at a range of temporal resolutions.
Ongoing collaboration with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) recognises the potential value of these insights, which demonstrate the reuse re-use value of these data in identifying dwelling types, population mobility and neighbourhood characteristics
Educational Engagement and Early Help Analytics
As part of the Government Data Accelerator Fund, for linking data to support trauma-informed practice and tackling adversity, Leeds City Council and the Leeds Institute of Data Analytics (LIDA) embarks on this 6-month project.
Studies have shown that 85,000 children in the Leeds and Bradford area live in poverty. 71% of these children are exposed to the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) of serious mental health disorders, domestic violence, and substance abuse in their home. These factors make children more at risk of disengaging with education, which could lead to poorer outcomes in later life.
Several data sets are currently collected and curated separately. By analysing across these, there is the opportunity to detect any patterns or correlations that help improve understanding of which groups of young people are most at risk, why, how to reach them at an early stage, and how interventions can be designed to support them.
The project is expected to identify factors correlated with lower levels of children’s engagement in education and lower levels of return to school after the COVID lockdowns. It is anticipated that the research will provide insights for policy makers about which sub-groups of the population (e.g. by socio-economic group; geographical area; age) could potentially benefit from supportive interventions to address the ACEs that are associated with absence from school.
Developing tools to estimate Vulnerability-related harm and policing demand in Bradford
This project is being carried out in conjunction with, and with supervision and support from, the ESRC Vulnerabilities and Policing Futures Research Centre. The project aims to develop exploratory tools and methods to quantify the spatio-temporal distribution of vulnerability-related harm and police demand in Bradford as recorded through police administrative data. It will harness two event-based datasets provided by West Yorkshire Police through the secure Connected Bradford Research Database. The first describing police calls for service, the second crimes recorded by police occurring within Bradford. In collaboration, the supervisory team and data scientist will identify and assess the effectiveness of methods to identify vulnerability-related events through provided police data. In turn, they will build tools to analyse the spatial and temporal patterns of these events at various scales in the Bradford region, from conducting simple event count, rate and spatial concentration measures, to more complex measures which weight crimes by their associated severity, and explore means to quantify demand through the measuring of call priorities, resourcing requirements and attendance times recorded in calls for service data. Finally, the project will explore how dashboarding tools might be used to provide visualisations of the geospatial distribution of vulnerability-related harm and policing demand to support ongoing Centre research, and engagement with practitioners and communities.
Exploring intersections of vulnerability-related Police & Ambulance provision in Bradford
This project is being carried out in conjunction with, and with supervision and support from, the ESRC Vulnerabilities and Policing Futures Research Centre. The project aims to examine the intersection of ‘vulnerability’ related emergency service provision across the Bradford region. It will harness two core administrative datasets provided through the secure Connected Bradford Research Database. The first, provided by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, describes 999 call events; the second, police calls for service provided by West Yorkshire Police. Initial analyses will explore means for identifying ‘vulnerability’ related calls within ambulance datasets. Subsequently, we will examine their spatial and temporal patterns of selected 999 calls across Bradford, and quantify their overlap with various vulnerability related police incidents. We will then explore how dashboarding tools might be used to provide visualisations of these patterns to support ongoing Centre research, and engagement with practitioners and communities. Finally, analyses will explore how models may be developed to quantify the supply and demand dynamics associated with vulnerability related emergency service provision.
Trends in online take-away purchasing
Online food delivery services have only been around for a relatively short amount of time, and yet they have become a wildly popular service. However, this is a rapidly evolving industry which has changed a lot not just due to consumer trends but also due to the unexpected circumstances that have surrounded the global scene. Therefore, the question has risen of what factors affect these trends, and how this change has affected the food environment. Not a lot is understood about costumer purchasing habits around online food delivery services and how their spread has affected the food environment across the UK.
In a partnership with an online food retailer, we will be able to look at transaction data in order to better understand people’s choices around food cooked away from home and purchased through an online delivery service.
How do people in the UK decide what to eat, and what factors affect their decisions are questions of interest in many areas such as urban planning, policy making, and marketing. We are particularly interested in how these trends have changed over time in the UK, before, during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and around other major events that might influence people’s preferences.
Previous studies have suggested that the more deprived areas in the UK have a higher access to take-away food outlets, but it remains to be seen whether this access translates to more purchasing by these areas.
Through this partnership, we will be looking at consumer data from one such online delivery service and carrying out GIS analysis to understand how the different demographics use this service.
Tamara Garcia Del Toro