Role of food prices and food system changes in improving population health

Lead Research Organisation: London Sch of Hygiene and Trop Medicine
Department Name: Public Health and Policy


AE1: Food and diet related health AE2: Epidemiological and population health studies AE3: Health economics and economic evaluations AE4: Impact of prices on population behaviour

Technical Summary

The CDA research programme uses advanced econometric methods to develop models and analyse dietary behaviour via food and beverage demand and linking to health outcomes by addressing four key gaps in current research:
RQ1: What is the role of stock-piling (storing), habits and information asymmetry in influencing consumer response to price changes and the choice of foods and beverages?
RQ2: What is the role of out-of-home food and beverage consumption in diets, and how does the demand for OOH foods and beverages respond to price changes, including substitution with foods eaten at home?
RQ3: What is the impact of industry-led voluntary changes in food systems, to achieve healthier food environments, on consumer food and beverage choices and expenditures?
RQ4: How can Discrete Choice Experiments (DCE) be effectively used in analysing the impact of food policies on consumer behaviour in the context of large numbers of alternatives and multiple choices?
RQs1-3 will be answered by micro-econometric analysis of highly disaggregated longitudinal panel data on household food and beverage purchases. Planned methods range from discrete choice models (RQ1) and multi-stage demand systems (e.g. almost ideal demand system) (RQ1-2) to interrupted time series designs with control groups and multi-level hierarchical random effects models (RQ3). For RQ4, advanced DCE methods will be used, including Bayesian D-efficient designs, and allowing for large number of alternatives and multiple choices via menu based experiments or multiple discrete choice models.
Two major innovations from the proposed programme include the use of newly available and highly disaggregated data for food and beverage consumption outside homes that will be linked to at-home consumption data, and an application of the DCE in the same sample meaning that stated preferences can be put into context with wider behaviour using large amounts of highly disaggregated observed behaviour (preference) data.

Planned Impact

The research proposed has a number of beneficiaries:

The research team. The PI will gain further knowledge, skills and experience to evolve from an independent researcher to a clear leader in the field. The CDA allows hiring a research fellow and thus supporting career development of a junior public health economist.

LSHTM. LSHTM will benefit from this research through a more diversified research portfolio, and high-quality research outputs in a strategically important area in public health research globally.

Academia. This research will introduce novel insights into households' dietary behaviour by analysing a novel and largely unused data on food and beverage consumption patterns both at-home and out-of-home. The benefit from the research is providing input into future research from using the findings or via developed methods and statistical applications.

Health policy makers. The project aims to provide evidence-based answers that help in deciding on and/or designing policies to influence food or beverage consumption habits. The scientific papers and other output (e.g. policy briefs) from the project will therefore include clearly written policy suggestions that health policy makers can benefit from.

Civil society organisations, professional bodies, health charities, lobby groups and other interest groups who wish to influence health policy regarding reductions in obesity and NCDs. These groups will benefit as their work can be based on peer-reviewed and published research findings as well as via continuous links with the PI and her emerging team to also provide input via suggestions and recommendations to research.

Ultimately the beneficiaries of this research are the people whose health and life quality can be improved by effective policies to reduce obesity and NCD prevalence rates. Healthier people mean a healthier workforce and thus savings from firm to national level from lower medical costs and reduced work absence will eventually boost economic growth for the country. Furthermore, resources saved from lower prevalence of obesity and NCDs can be used elsewhere to improve other public services.

In the longer run it is not just the UK and developed countries that benefit but also developing countries where the growing issue of double burden of disease means that these governments will be seeking effective solutions including these tested in developed countries.


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Description Evaluation of the health impacts of the UK Treasury Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL)
Amount £1,498,956 (GBP)
Funding ID PHR/16/130/01 
Organisation National Institute for Health Research 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 12/2021
Description Impact of changes in the food environment on food and drink purchasing using large-scale secondary data
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation Bloomsbury Colleges 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2019 
End 08/2022
Description Sustainable and Healthy Food Systems
Amount £5,000,000 (GBP)
Organisation Wellcome Trust 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2017 
End 05/2022
Description Collaboration with Lisa Powell 
Organisation University of Illinois at Chicago
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I visited Lisa Powell from UIC for a 2 week period to discuss mutual interests and projects. I agreed to help advise a PhD student at UIC and contributed to a conference submission.
Collaborator Contribution - advice on specific papers - initial agreements on working jointly towards publication
Impact joint session at International Conference on Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity
Start Year 2018
Description Collaboration with Mario Mazzocchi 
Organisation University of Bologna
Department Department of Statistics
Country Italy 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Mario is helping me with my fellowship project.
Collaborator Contribution Mario is helping me with the development of the model for measuring asymmetries in consumer demand. We jointly author publications (in progress). He has made 2 research visits to London. I have made two research visits to Bologna University. The collaboration is extended now with a postdoc working with Mario (Sara Capacci)
Impact Presentation at Schumpeter School Award (June 2015) (by M. Mazzocchi) Presentation at iHEA Congress in Milan (July 2015) (by L.Cornelsen) Presentation at HESG Meeting in Manchester (January 2016) (by L.Cornelsen) Two academic papers , currently under review with journals; invited seminar at the University of Cornell (April 2017)
Start Year 2014
Description Evaluation of a levy on soft drinks in a UK restaurant chain 
Organisation London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM)
Department Department of Social and Environmental Health Research
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I contributed by contributing to the design of data analysis, conducted data analysis and helped draft research paper
Collaborator Contribution The collaborators initiated the study, sourced data, planned the design of the studies , contributed to data analysis and interpretation and drafting papers
Impact - project report to funder (NIHR) - conference presentation at Lancet Public Health Conference (DOI:
Start Year 2016
Description ESRC workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Invited talk at ESRC funded workshop on health information
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Global Food Security Lab 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Presentation on economic drivers of food choice to GFS lab for early career researchers on healthy and sustainable diets
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Interview for Malnutrition Deeply 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Interview panellist on fiscal policies on sugary drinks
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Presentation at Pre-Cop24 conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Invited talk on the successes of SSB taxes
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description invited seminar at Reading 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Invited lunchtime departmental (dep. of Agriculture) seminar at the University of Reading where I presented work on the discrete choice experiments.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description school website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact News story on fellowhsip on LSHTM news website
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017