HCR.20.068 – Social meaning, enhancers and constraints of healthy eating as guides to developing hands-on practical means to support healthy eating in families with a low socioeconomic position

Route: Health care research, sickness prevention and treatment

Cluster question: 072 How do a healthy lifestyle and wholesome habits promote good health and prevent illness?

Populations with a low socioeconomic position (SEP) consume poorer quality diets than populations with a higher SEP. Increasing diet quality in populations with a low SEP can contribute to reducing socioeconomic inequalities in health, that continue to be highly prevalent. One reason is that attempts to improve diet quality in this group often fail to reach the target group and do not yield the desired effects. Literature shows that the importance of healthy eating is acknowledged in populations with a low SEP, but is not prioritized because healthy eating is placed in the context of cost and time limitations (financial difficulties, combining family life and other responsibilities), social meaning (e.g. symbolic value of certain foods, social relations, identity), and specific preferences (e.g. for traditional, familiar foods). We will explore these and additional, yet to unravel, social meanings, enhancers and constraints to healthy eating in families with a low SEP in the Dutch context. Elaborating on these findings, we will explore how to develop and provide hands-on practical means to support eating in line with the Dutch nutritional guidelines in Dutch families with a low SEP, while taking into account their specific preferences, social meanings, facilitators and constraints. Practical means may take the form of, e.g., recipes, ready-to-cook food components and/or ready-to-eat food products. The practical means will be focused on parents, as main gatekeepers of family meals. However, we view families from a systems perspective in which we distinguish and take into account the perceptions and influences of multiple subgroups, such as children, adolescents, and grandparents. To maximize fit in everyday life, the practical means will be developed in co-creation with the low SEP target group, as well as with the food industry to explore production and provisioning options within the scope of socially responsible entrepreneurship.


families, food, healthy eating, practical means, socioeconomic inequalities


Organisation Wageningen University (WUR)
Name Dr. B.C. (Bob) Mulder
E-mail bob.mulder@wur.nl
Website https://research.wur.nl/en/persons/bob-mulder