UK to examine attitudes to food issues

By Lorraine Heller

- Last updated on GMT

The UK’s Food Standards Agency (FSA) is embarking on a project to understand people’s attitudes and behaviours to food issues, with the aim of better understanding how these views change between population groups and over time.

An initial budget of £30,000 (€37,000) will go towards the project, which will be used to inform a newly implemented FSA survey on a range of issues on eating habits and food safety.

The project will provide secondary analysis and advice to explore available longitudinal data, said FSA. “This project will advance the FSA’s understanding of people’s attitudes and behaviours in relation to food issues drawing on existing literature and datasets.”

“We are particularly interested in panel data such as the Birth Cohort Studies (BCS), the British Household Panel Study (BHPS) the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC) and Understanding Society (USoc), which incorporates the BHPS. What is of particular interest is learning from the studies about changes over an individual’s life time and the possible impact of life events on attitudes and behaviours in relation to food safety and food related issues,”​ said the agency.

Population surveys

Findings will be used to inform the development of FSA’s Food for You survey, which was set up this year and involves around 3,000 people from around the UK. The survey, which is due to take place annually, collects quantitative data used to compare attitudes and behaviours to food between different groups within the population, and how these change over time.

Findings from the current project will also be used to develop the Understanding Society survey, which analyses how different sections of the population respond to regional, national and international change. Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and run by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), the survey involves around 100,000 individuals in 40,000 British households.

FSA’s project will also earmark other recommendations for further analysis on topics that cannot be examined under the scope of the current study.

The agency is calling for research proposals for the project under the set budget, but said it also welcomes outlines for optional work that could be carried out and add value to the project, if further budget was secured.

FSA expects the work to start in October 2010 and be completed by April 2011.

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