NIHR Obesity Policy Research Unit at UCL


Policy levers to improve food provisioning environments: How effective are they?

A literature review

Authors: Mark Spires, Anna Isaacs, Corinna Hawkes

A range of policy levers exist to help shift consumers towards healthier, more nutritious food options, and away from high fat, sugar and salt (HFSS) foods when purchasing or otherwise acquiring food from retail outlets. In order to identify and better understand the effectiveness of existing levers, we conducted a review of the academic literature. The 10 specific levers that we identified include actions that can be taken both inside stores/outlets and through “alternative” forms of food provisioning, and can be classified as applicable to either A) neighbourhood planning and infrastructure, B) alternative food provisioning models, C) inside store/outlet environment, or D) consumers. Additionally, evidence suggests four key considerations when implementing these actions: 1) cost/price to consumers is critical; 2) close consideration needs to be given to the context in which actions are implemented; 3) a coordinated approach should be taken to combine new and existing actions (i.e. they should not be implemented in isolation); and 4) the development and implementation of actions should involve the collaboration of all relevant stakeholders (especially retail owners/operators and the community).