Food Policy Research Projects

The Food Policy Research Programme aims to deliver innovative, relevant and timely research which informs food policy initiatives in England, the rest of the UK and beyond. We achieve this by working collaboratively with the Modelling Programme and with academic and non-academic colleagues within Liverpool, UK, Europe and Worldwide.

Over the past 10 years, in collaboration with the Modelling Programme, we have developed our research with key stakeholders to inform public health decision making.


At the UK level (MRC Research Grant), we have conducted interviews with a broad spectrum of policy makers and planners to inform the development of computer models for CHD to support decision making for policy and service planning.

Planning ahead in public health? A qualitative study of the time horizons used in public health decision-making. Read

Policy-makers’ attitudes to decision support models for coronary heart disease. Read


At the European level (EU Health Programme Grant), we mapped public health nutrition policies in 30 countries, and interviewed senior policy-makers, public health nutrition policy experts and academics from 14 countries to elicit their views on diverse current and possible nutrition strategies.

Smorgasbord or symphony? Assessing public health nutrition policies across 30 European countries using a novel framework Read 

NHS Health Checks Programme

Building upon our previous work, we are currently conducting a research project (NIHR HTA Grant) to provide a validated open source/open access, flexible model to enable commissioners to quantify the potential and cost effectiveness for population health gain of the NHS Health Check Programme. Central to the project is engagement with stakeholders via four workshops across two years. This user perspective will strengthen and inform the desirable features of the user-friendly model and identify additional relevant scenarios to test.

Effectiveness Hierarchy

The food policy research programme has also developed the concept of the “effectiveness hierarchy” (i.e. comparing "downstream, agentic" approaches targeting individuals with "upstream, structural" policy-based population strategies). This approach has been successfully used to review policy actions to improve population dietary patterns and prevent diet-related non-communicable diseases (details), dietary salt reduction policies (details), and dietary trans-fat reduction policies (details).

Health impact of sugar sweetened beverages

We have actively researched and published about the public health impact of sugar sweetened beverages both prior to and since the announcement of the UK soft drinks industry levy (SDIL). This has included examining hidden sugar in drinks marketed to children (details), the underlying drivers of junk food and sugary drinks in the UK population, and the recent scientific and campaigning movements culminating in the announcement of a SDIL (details) and sugar-sweetened beverage coverage in the British media prior to the SDIL announcement (details) and subsequently, with academic colleagues at the MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow.