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Special Issue "Promotion of Healthy Foods: Effectiveness, Evaluation and Agenda Setting for Examining Intervention Techniques to Improve Dietary Intake"

Special Issue Editor

Dr. Frans Folkvord
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
1. Open Evidence Research, Barcelona, 08018 Barcelona, Spain; 2. Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences, Communication and Cognition, Tilburg University, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands
Interests: food marketing; eating behavior; health and well-being; behavioural economics

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I am very pleased to announce a Special Issue of the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health entitled “Promotion of Healthy Foods: Effectiveness, Evaluation and Agenda Setting for Examining Intervention Techniques to Improve Dietary Intake”. I am co-editing this Special Issue, and we invite you to submit your original research, including reviews and short communications, on this topic.

Mounting evidence has shown that food marketing techniques for unhealthy foods are effective in targeting children, adolescents, and adults. As a consequence, children’s obesity rates and lifelong negative health consequences have increased during the past few decades. Until now, there has been limited evidence for the effectiveness of healthy food techniques, while national and international health institutes recommend all age-groups to eat more healthy foods, such as fruit, vegetables, legumes (e.g., lentils and beans), nuts, and whole grains (e.g., unprocessed maize, millet, oats, wheat, and brown rice).

Examples of important research questions that this Special Issue hopes to address include (but are not limited to):

  • How do food promotion techniques for healthy foods affect children, adolescents, and adults?
  • Are some people, in particular youths, more susceptible to influence than others (e.g., health consciousness, food literacy)?
  • How have digital and social media, particularly mobile devices and online platforms, affected how healthy food is marketed to children, adolescents, and adults?
  • What is the impact of existing government policies to stimulate healthy food marketing, and what is the potential impact of proposed solutions (e.g., pricing, educational programs)?

The final date for submission is 31 October 2020. However, we will review submitted manuscripts when they are received, and will publish papers online when they are accepted.

We are hoping to publish a wide range of papers in this Issue, and encourage you to submit your research! Please feel free to distribute this announcement to any colleagues you believe may be interested.

Thank you. Please contact me if you have any questions.

Best,

Dr. Frans Folkvord
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • food marketing
  • healthy food
  • eating behavior
  • public health

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Article
An Educational Intervention for Improving the Snacks and Beverages Brought to Youth Sports in the USA
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(9), 4886; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18094886 - 04 May 2021
Viewed by 876
Abstract
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to test a small-scale intervention and its ability to decrease total sugar intake and number of calories offered at youth sports games. Methods: This study was a pre/post-test quasi-experimental design. A flier was developed and distributed [...] Read more.
Objectives: The purpose of this study was to test a small-scale intervention and its ability to decrease total sugar intake and number of calories offered at youth sports games. Methods: This study was a pre/post-test quasi-experimental design. A flier was developed and distributed to parents. The flier aimed to decrease the sugar-sweetened beverages and increase the nutritional quality of food brought to games. Baseline data were collected in 2018 (n = 61). The flier was distributed prior to the start of the league, once during the league, and posted online in 2019. Postintervention data were collected in the intervention group (n = 122) and a comparison group (n = 74). Nutritional information was collected through direct observation. Results: The average amount of total sugar provided per game per child was 25.5 g at baseline when snacks/beverages were provided at games. After the intervention, the average amount of total sugar provided significantly decreased (16.7 g/game/child, p < 0.001). Conclusions: The intervention reduced total sugar offered and the number of sugar-sweetened beverages brought to games. It was low-cost and could be easily implemented by public health practitioners and/or parks and recreation administrators. Further, considerations could be made to implement policies relative to snacks and beverages at youth sports games. Full article
Article
Using Virtual Reality to Stimulate Healthy and Environmentally Friendly Food Consumption among Children: An Interview Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(3), 1088; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18031088 - 26 Jan 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1529
Abstract
Since habits formed during childhood are predictive of adult behaviour, children form an important target group when it comes to improving healthy and environmentally friendly food consumption. To explore the potential of immersive virtual reality (VR) in this respect, we conducted a semi-structured [...] Read more.
Since habits formed during childhood are predictive of adult behaviour, children form an important target group when it comes to improving healthy and environmentally friendly food consumption. To explore the potential of immersive virtual reality (VR) in this respect, we conducted a semi-structured interview study (N = 22) among children aged 6–13 years. This study consisted of two parts: (1) a VR experience and (2) a semi-structured interview to investigate (1) to what extent children are able to recall and understand information about the impact of food products on their health and the environment when provided to them as pop-ups in a VR supermarket; (2) what rational and emotional processes are triggered by this information; and (3) what children’s expectations about the real-life application and impact of the pop-ups are, and why. Interview data were analysed using the framework method. Results showed that although all participants were able to recall the information, only children from an average age of ten years old also understood the information. When participants understood the information, they were often aware of and felt sorry for their negative behavioural impact. Most participants expected their behaviour to positively change when imagining real-life application of the pop-ups. Full article
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Article
Evaluation of Variability in Dietary Quality of School Lunches Meeting National School Lunch Program Guidelines by Socioeconomic Status and Rurality
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(21), 8012; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17218012 - 30 Oct 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1106
Abstract
Research suggests that the dietary quality (DQ) of school lunches meeting the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) requirements may vary significantly. Possible drivers of variation include factors, such as socioeconomic status (SES) and rurality. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine [...] Read more.
Research suggests that the dietary quality (DQ) of school lunches meeting the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) requirements may vary significantly. Possible drivers of variation include factors, such as socioeconomic status (SES) and rurality. The purpose of this cross-sectional study was to determine whether there was variation in nutrient content and DQ by SES and rurality, when analyzing middle school lunch menus meeting NSLP requirements. A random sample of 45 Kansas middle school lunch menus each were obtained from websites of randomly selected districts from low- and high-SES strata. Thirty-day menus were analyzed for nutrient content. Healthy Eating Index (HEI) 2015 scores were calculated for DQ. Rurality was determined for schools by National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) locale. There were significant differences in added sugar (p < 0.001) and calcium (p = 0.001) favoring high-SES menus, and in sodium (p = 0.001) favoring low-SES menus. There were no nutrient differences by rurality. The HEI scores were not different by SES or rurality, with a mean score (SD) 61.9 (2.6) across all schools. Middle school lunch DQ in Kansas does not vary by SES or rurality. Efforts to improve DQ should focus on all foodservice operations, not specifically low-SES or rural schools. Full article
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Article
Taste and Health Information on Fast Food Menus to Encourage Young Adults to Choose Healthy Food Products: An Experimental Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(19), 7139; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17197139 - 29 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1511
Abstract
Currently, a great number of people have an unhealthy dietary intake, leading to chronic diseases. Despite the high prevalence of obesity and people being overweight, only a few strategies to promote healthier food products have been proven effective. Therefore, the objective of this [...] Read more.
Currently, a great number of people have an unhealthy dietary intake, leading to chronic diseases. Despite the high prevalence of obesity and people being overweight, only a few strategies to promote healthier food products have been proven effective. Therefore, the objective of this study was to test the effect of the presence of health information and its integration into a fast food menu context on young adults’ healthy food choices. An experimental between-subjects design consisting of three conditions—subtle, explicit, and no health information—was conducted among 142 participants aged 18 to 24 (Mage: 21.49, SD = 1.77). The results showed that when health information about healthy products was provided, the level of integration of the information into the menu context had an effect. More specifically, participants exposed to explicit health information about healthy products provided on the fast food menu were more likely to choose a healthy food product compared to participants exposed to subtle integrated health information. No interaction effect for moderating factors was found. In line with the healthy food promotion model, the findings suggest that the provision of explicit health information on healthy products stimulates healthy food choices in a fast food environment. Full article
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Article
Farm to Early Care and Education Programming: A Descriptive Study of Challenges and Opportunities to Promote Healthful Foods to Young Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(18), 6857; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17186857 - 19 Sep 2020
Viewed by 1047
Abstract
Interest in farm to early care and education (ECE) programming, which consists of gardening, nutrition education, and local food procurement, has been growing in the United States, as it may be a promising technique for promoting healthful foods to young children. However, there [...] Read more.
Interest in farm to early care and education (ECE) programming, which consists of gardening, nutrition education, and local food procurement, has been growing in the United States, as it may be a promising technique for promoting healthful foods to young children. However, there is limited information about current farm to ECE efforts in specific states, including Colorado, to support funding and resource needs. An online survey was distributed to licensed Colorado ECE providers in two phases to understand current participation in the farm to ECE as well as provider perspectives on benefits and barriers to programming. A total of 250 surveys were completed. Approximately 60% of ECE facilities participated in gardening and nutrition education with providers almost unanimously agreeing on the child-centric benefits of programming. Fewer facilities (37%) participated in local food procurement likely due to significant time, cost, and knowledge barriers. To increase participation in farm to ECE as a technique for promoting healthful foods to young children, future efforts should focus on innovative solutions to reduce ECE-specific barriers. Full article
Article
Acceptability and Feasibility of Best Practice School Lunches by Elementary School-Aged Children in a Serve Setting: A Randomized Crossover Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(17), 6299; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17176299 - 29 Aug 2020
Viewed by 927
Abstract
Background: National School Lunch Program (NSLP) standards have improved school lunch dietary quality (DQ), however, further improvements could be made. Acceptability and feasibility of higher DQ are potential barriers. Thus, the purpose is to compare acceptability and feasibility of best practice (BPSL, optimizing [...] Read more.
Background: National School Lunch Program (NSLP) standards have improved school lunch dietary quality (DQ), however, further improvements could be made. Acceptability and feasibility of higher DQ are potential barriers. Thus, the purpose is to compare acceptability and feasibility of best practice (BPSL, optimizing DQ) with typical school lunches (TSL, meeting minimum NSLP standards) served separately and concurrently. Methods: Forty elementary school-aged participants were recruited for a randomized crossover trial. Participants attended three meal conditions (MC) choosing one of two meal types—MC1) BPSL1/BPSL2, MC2) TSL1/TSL2, MC3) BPSL/TSL. Acceptability included taste test surveys, weighted plate waste assessments, and hunger scales. Feasibility included meal cost, time, and skill and equipment requirements. Results: There were no significant differences in total taste test score, average total plate waste, or change in hunger (ps > 0.017) before or after adjusting for covariates. TSL was selected significantly more often in MC3 (TSL = 83.3%, BPSL = 16.7%, p = 0.001). Meal cost (p = 0.783) and skill and equipment requirements were not significantly different between meal types. BPSL required significantly longer preparation time (TSL = 60 ± 25 min, BPSL = 267 ± 101 min, p = 0.026). Conclusions: Results indicate few differences in acceptability and feasibility between BPSL and TSL. This study could inform decision and policy-makers seeking to improve school lunch DQ and acceptance of higher DQ meals. Full article
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Article
Self-Persuasion Increases Healthy Eating Intention Depending on Cultural Background
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(10), 3405; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17103405 - 13 May 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1304
Abstract
Unhealthy eating behavior has become a global health risk and thus needs to be influenced. Previous research has found that self-persuasion is more effective than direct persuasion in changing attitudes and behavioral intentions, but the influence of the cultural backgrounds of those being [...] Read more.
Unhealthy eating behavior has become a global health risk and thus needs to be influenced. Previous research has found that self-persuasion is more effective than direct persuasion in changing attitudes and behavioral intentions, but the influence of the cultural backgrounds of those being persuaded remains unclear. We conducted two studies to investigate the effectiveness of self-persuasion and direct persuasion techniques in promoting healthy eating intention among different ethnicities in the Netherlands. Native Dutch, Moroccan–Dutch, and Turkish–Dutch participated both online and offline. Participants saw a poster with either a self-persuasion message (“Why would you choose healthier food?”) or a direct persuasion message (“Choose healthier food!”), and were then asked to report their intention to eat healthily in the upcoming month. Significant cultural differences were found between native Dutch and Moroccan–Dutch in Study 1, and between the native Dutch and Turkish-Dutch who participated offline in Study 2. Accordingly, cultural background was found to moderate the relationship between persuasion and healthy eating intention among these groups. These results provided preliminary evidence for the moderation effect of persuasion on healthy eating intention: Self-persuasion appears to be more effective for people with an individualistic background, and direct persuasion appears to be more effective for people with a collectivistic background. Full article
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Article
The Effect of the Promotion of Vegetables by a Social Influencer on Adolescents’ Subsequent Vegetable Intake: A Pilot Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2243; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072243 - 26 Mar 2020
Cited by 10 | Viewed by 2272
Abstract
Marketers have found new ways of reaching adolescents on social platforms. Previous studies have shown that advertising effectively increases the intake of unhealthy foods while not so much is known about the promotion of healthier foods. Therefore, the main aim of the present [...] Read more.
Marketers have found new ways of reaching adolescents on social platforms. Previous studies have shown that advertising effectively increases the intake of unhealthy foods while not so much is known about the promotion of healthier foods. Therefore, the main aim of the present experimental pilot study was to examine if promoting red peppers by a popular social influencer on social media (Instagram) increased subsequent actual vegetable intake among adolescents. We used a randomized between-subject design with 132 adolescents (age: 13–16 y). Adolescents were exposed to an Instagram post by a highly popular social influencer with vegetables (n = 44) or energy-dense snacks (n = 44) or were in the control condition (n = 44). The main outcome was vegetable intake. Results showed no effect of the popular social influencer promoting vegetables on the intake of vegetables. No moderation effects were found for parasocial interaction and persuasion knowledge. Bayesian results were consistent with the results and supported evidence against the effect of the experimental condition. Worldwide, youth do not consume the recommended amount of fruit and vegetables, making it important to examine if mere exposure or different forms of food promotion techniques for healthier foods are effective in increasing the intake of these foods. Full article

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Study Protocol
Reducing Young Schoolchildren’s Intake of Sugar-Rich Food and Drinks: Study Protocol and Intervention Design for “Are You Too Sweet?” A Multicomponent 3.5-Month Cluster Randomised Family-Based Intervention Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(24), 9580; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17249580 - 21 Dec 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 947
Abstract
A high consumption of sugar-rich discretionary food and drinks has several health implications, which have been traced from childhood into adulthood. Parents act as primary mediators shaping children’s dietary habits, and interventions that engage parents have shown to result in positive outcomes. Further, [...] Read more.
A high consumption of sugar-rich discretionary food and drinks has several health implications, which have been traced from childhood into adulthood. Parents act as primary mediators shaping children’s dietary habits, and interventions that engage parents have shown to result in positive outcomes. Further, collaboration with local school health nurses and dentists provides an effective structural frame to support behaviour change and anchor new initiatives. The multicomponent 3.5-month cluster randomised family-focused intervention “Are you too Sweet?” aims to evaluate the effectiveness of communicating new Danish guidelines for sugar-rich discretionary food and drinks for school starters (5–7 years). This paper describes the development, outcomes and process evaluation of the intervention that includes three main components: extended dialogue during a school health nurse consultation, a box with home-use materials, and a social media platform to facilitate interaction among participants. Children (n = 160) and their parents were scheduled for a baseline interview at six different schools. The intervention was developed to increase self-efficacy, knowledge about guidelines, observational learning and reduce impediments for behavioural change. The desired primary outcome was a reduction in intake of sugar-rich food measured through a 7-day dietary record. The results contribute to the evidence on effective health promotion strategies. Full article
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