fredag 1 september 2017

Using digital interventions to change food-related behaviors

We handed in a research grant application, "A systematic review of the scientific literature on digital interventions for more sustainable food consumption behaviours" with 30 minutes to spare yesterday!  Besides me, the other three applicants are my colleagues Björn Hedin (project leader), Elina Eriksson and Cecilia Katzeff.

The speed at which we put together the application was amazing. While we had most of the ideas in place last week, the act of producing the text that constitutes the application came together in just a few days due to the fact that we had a clearly specified goal, all four applicants contributed to the effort of producing the text and we are all master wordsmiths who work well together (we worked together like a well-oiled machinery). Furthermore, all four have worked together in various constellations and in numerous projects, including projects related to the application we handed in.

The application was written in response to a call for research grant applications about "syntheses [literature reviews] within the food area" from The Swedish Council for Sustainable Development's (Formas) National Research Programme for Food. While the money available in the call is moderate (as these things go), a grant would allow us four applicants to each spend 20% of our total 2018 work effort in this project, doing a literature review of "digital interventions for more sustainable food consumption behaviours". It would also allow the four applicants to work together for a year - something we would very much like to do!

Formas describes the purpose of the call as follows:

"Society is facing major challenges associated with food and knowledge is needed about the preconditions and sustainable solutions to meet these challenges. The scientific knowledge base, as well as the implementation and impact of research and development within the area involve many complex issues. The objective of this call is to obtain a picture of the current knowledge status and knowledge needs for sustainable development of the area through syntheses."

And this is the summary of our proposed project:

"This synthesis aims at investigating the current state of research regarding digital behavioral interventions to increase sustainability in the food sector, focusing on end consumers and large-scale food management. The area is very relevant and urgent today, since digital behavioral interventions is an area that has grown rapidly in recent years, but where no systematic research overview of this kind has yet been made in the area of ​​ sustainability. The results will be of value to decision makers, interaction- and intervention designers and practitioners in companies, government and other public sectors who have an interests in sustainability and food. We will look at end consumers (purchasing, food storage, cooking, consumption) and large-scale food management (retail, restaurant, public sector) focusing on sustainability in the form of reduced food waste, changed diets to more sustainable lifestyles and changed practices around food (transport, refrigeration, cooking, etc.). We will investigate which goals related to food and sustainability the relevant studies have addressed, what behavior change techniques are used, what kind of digital platform has been used and to what extent set goals have been achieved. Our goal is furthermore to determine where there are knowledge gaps and to recommend what measures can be taken in the area to shift towards more sustainable food consumption."

Also, these are the research questions that underlie the project:

"What is the status of current scientific knowledge of digital behavior change interventions for more sustainable food consumption practices?
- What are the most significant and reliable results in this field (that should be better disseminated and built upon in future work)?
- What are the most significant and urgent knowledge gaps in this field?."

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