Behaviour change modelling project commissioned

This project aims to model the trade-offs between health and environmental impact associated with different food stuffs and different diets. This project will construct a decision support tool that will enable identification of healthy and sustainable diets that are achievable through different policy options and direct interventions on diet in the UK.

Scientific rationale

With one in three people globally currently malnourished (ref 1) – totalling 800 million chronically undernourished, two billion suffering micronutrient deficiencies, and 600 million obese – the burden on both national health and economies associated with poor diet is of increasing societal concern. In the UK, a great deal of focus has been placed on improving nutrition and preventing obesity via a number of public health interventions. At the same time there is a need to reduce the environmental impact of our food supply to protect natural resources and mitigate climate change, specifically limiting greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement and keep global temperature rise below 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

Change to consumption levels and dietary composition could not only have significant impact on human health and nutrition, but also on climate change as food production is a major source of greenhouse-gas emissions (ref 2). However, while the overall components of a healthy and sustainable diet are generally well understood, more specific trade-offs between dietary and environmental goods associated with consumption of different foods are less well known. Further to this, little evidence is available to determine which interventions might be most effective in influencing behaviour and encouraging positive dietary change. This poses a challenge for policy makers as the implications of specific policy options aimed at changing diets to improve nutrition, reduce obesity and lessen environmental impacts are not known. It is therefore a priority to better understand routes to behaviour change that supports improved outcomes for both health and sustainability.


  1. Global Nutrition Report 2016: From Promise to Impact – Ending Malnutrition by 2030 (IFPRI, 2016).
  2. Designing Climate Change Mitigation Plans That Add Up (Environ. Sci. Technol., Volume 47, No. 14, p8062−8069, 2013).