An Intervention to Encourage Healthier Food Purchasing: SCOPA (Sugar Swaps for Non Communicable Disease Prevention App)

Lead Research Organisation: University of Oxford
Department Name: Primary Care Health Sciences


Poor diets are one of the leading risk factors for ill health, including the risk of obesity. Food purchases are an important antecedent of consumption and offer a key point to intervene by encouraging consumers to select healthier alternatives. Recent systematic reviews have shown that interventions based on 'swaps' may be effective, but there is an outstanding challenge to deliver personalized interventions at scale and at point of choice where they are most likely to motivate behaviour change.

This project will build on an app recently developed in Oxford which allows the public to scan the barcode of food products in grocery store and receive swap suggestions, to self-monitor their dietary intake and to track their progress. However it is not yet apparent whether this is effective in driving changes in food purchasing behaviour.

This project will focus on people who are overweight and encourage specific swaps to reduce the sugar content of the diet to promote weight loss. It will also explore whether community pharmacists, based in grocery stores, can engage with a diverse community of customers to motivate behaviour changes.

The aim of the project is to develop an intervention toolkit combining motivational support by a supermarket-based pharmacist and a smartphone app to promote healthy food choices, and test the feasibility of this intervention to reduce the sugar content of the diet and promote weight-loss among adults who are overweight. This will provide experience in intervention development and pilot testing using both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

This project is closely aligned with the new NHS focus on prevention, the Public Health England campaign to reduce sugar intake and on place-based interventions. It will form part of the ongoing programme of work in the Oxford BRC Diet and Obesity theme.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
EP/R513295/1 01/10/2018 30/09/2023
2271087 Studentship EP/R513295/1 01/10/2019 30/09/2022 Charlotte Lee